Jay Ashman – coach host – Interdisciplinarity in performance – interview 1


Q: How long have you been coaching, in what type of institutional arrangement (team, club, self-employed trainer) and what sports.

I have been a trainer since the late 90’s and involved in coaching athletes since the mid 2000’s. Currently I work out of City Gym in Kansas City, MO as an independent contractor while working with young athletes at Teamwork Sports (KCMO) to help them with speed, agility, and running mechanics. I also as a coach for the boy’s rugby team at Liberty High School in Liberty, MO.

Q: Have you been part of a multi-disciplinary team of professionals in any of them? Could you describe how it was? Did you have the chance of doing inter-disciplinary work (making decisions according to interactions with other professionals)?

Numerous times in my career I had athletes who were fresh from rehab. Part of what I do is consult with their PT to see what the exact injury was, what exercises they used to rehabilitate them, and formulated a plan based off of that.

In NYC/Long Island I was also a PTA. During that time I had first hand experience working with their athletes assisting with rehab, and the doctors that employed me also graciously allowed me to use their facility (they had weights and machines) to train post-rehab clients. I worked with their baseball players, softball players, cops, and normal people who wanted to be stronger.

It was a good experience in almost every imaginable way. Most PT’s I worked with were very generous with information, of course after their patient signed forms allowing it, and the time spent working for those doctors taught me a great deal about injury rehab and how it is approached from a clinical perspective.

I am not a clinician, I am a strength coach. Those are two distinctly different lines of work.

Q: In what coaching situations do you feel you “could use” (would be nice if) input from other professionals and in what situations do you feel you “really need” (the quality of your decisions is impaired or you are unable to make a decision) it?

I think of all the coaching disciplines you selected:

  • Sports Medicine
  • Sports Psychology
  • Sports Nutrition
  • Sports Physiology
  • Physical Therapy for Sports
  • Coaching — Sports Preparation
  • Physical Education

Next we move on to sports preparation, where kids learn to play sports.

Onto that we move to the other areas if that child chooses to expand his horizons after little league sports.

As far as what I “need”, it is really all of them. If you look at the context of what each brings to the table, as a strength coach, I can’t rehab athletes, I don’t have the educational background to use psychological tactics with them, and I am not a PE teacher in high school. I do work with athletes in setting up a sound nutritional strategy but I am not a RD, so my scope is limited with that. If an athlete of mine needs further work nutritionally that dives into the clinical realm, I immediately refer them to a clinical professional to help them.

Staying in your lane is critical, which is why the disciplines above become so individually important for a coach and an athlete.

Q: If you could choose a team of professionals to work with on a permanent basis, what specialties would they come from, in order of priority? Why?

Being a strength coach I would select:

  1. Sports preparation – how good is the athlete on the field, what does the coach feel they need work on the most?
  2. Sports nutrition – Let’s get them on a solid eating plan, learning about macros, micros, and proper balances of all to achieve the desired outcome both physically and health-wise.
  3. Physical Therapy/Physiology – injuries are a part of life, a good therapist will help accelerate rehab and help my business with referrals. Physiology gets lumped in here because the study of movement is nothing but an assist to my profession. Physiology is such a broad field it can theoretically cross over into several of these topics.
  4. Sports Medicine – dealing with physical issues not related to rehab.
  5. Sports Psychology – I almost loathe to put this one at 5, as it is critical to an athlete to be in the right mindset to perform, but many times if an athlete is physically confident, they are mentally confident. Exceptions exist which is the only reason why Psychology is 5.
  6. Physical Education – they are last because there is a good change most of us will never be in contact with a PE teacher while training athletes. This is why I feel that the profession of PE teaching needs to be given its proper respect and expanded from a glorified coach who plays games with kids to teaching about health, nutrition, movement, as well as sports skills. Think about how that entire profession would change if we enabled PE teachers to be actual teachers as well as coaches.

Q: Do you keep a list of professionals to refer your clients/athletes to in case you feel they need extra help? How often do you need to refer your clients/athletes to them?

Yes I do and I have referred out a few times for nutritional strategies, injuries, or even clients that I felt would benefit from another coach who fits their profile.

Q: How would you describe the interaction between coaches and the following professionals in the USA?

  • Sports physicians
  • Sports psychologists
  • Sports physical therapists
  • Sports nutritionists
  • Sports physiologists/academics

(attending the same conferences, having informal consultations with each other, easy communication, using similar concepts, etc)

It depends on the conference. For example: my gym is hosting a seminar in the summertime that our Chiro setup and local Physical Therapists will attend along with Trainers and Strength Coaches. When you look at the whole of the Sports Performance world, the overlaps between the professionals are loud and clear. We will not exist without the others, period.

The communication is clear from my point of view. I have yet to have an issue with a specialist when I reached out to them for information or help. It has been my experience that the assistance tends to pay it forward. I think that is part of the perks of being a part of that field where others are willing to communicate ideas and protocols openly for the sake of education and helping out athletes.

Q: Do you regularly follow what is going on in the sports performance / strength and conditioning allied fields? (read their journals, go to their conferences, participate in their discussion groups, etc)

I read journals regularly because you never know what information you will find in them which will help you in some way. I am a part of a few discussion groups where I mainly read and ask an occasional question along the way. One of my favorite S&C groups is the private DeFranco Insiders Group on Facebook. You never see people post stupidity, Joe and Smitty are there to help people out, you will see members post cool videos of workout ideas, and it is real in the trenches work that goes on there. You don’t see labcoats arguing over what study is better. These are coaches and athletes who use what works, find out what works better, and discuss it like professionals.

The caveat is that you have to join their insider page, which is 20 bucks a month. A solid investment if you take your position seriously.

Q: About your background and certifications: besides strictly speaking training methods issues, what questions in your tests relied on allied disciplines?

I think I know what you are asking here, at first I was confused about the question because I wasn’t aware of the intent of it. You are asking what questions on those tests deal with allied disciplines, right? To my memory, not too many. Strength Coaching is Strength Coaching, those disciplines are their own specialty. We are not trained to crossover into their realm, and most likely those specialists are not trained in our realm. Of course, exceptions exists such as when a PT also studies, and practices, to be a Strength Coach; however, when you look at the actual course material of those subjects (with the exception of Physiology/Exercise Science) the overlap is academic for the sake of rudimentary knowledge rather than an in depth look at a specialized field.

Q: Still about your background and certifications: what certifications did you choose, which ones had practical examination and what did they consist of?

Originally, I took a AAAI/ISMA cert to get my foot in the door. That test was written and practical. Both parts were done at a class I went to specifically for this certification.

I have an ISSA S&C cert. The test was a few parts, one of which was an essay, one was a video practical exam. I chose this cert because ISSA is well respected and I have a personal boycott against anything NSCA because of my own reasons. For years they claimed to be the standard bearer of certs, leveraging their power to make the CSCS the signature certification to be hired by a school or a professional team. Meanwhile they allow ANY four-year degree to get a CSCS. You can have a degree in finance and become a CSCS. I have a serious issue with that because what does a finance degree have to do with studying how to be a Strength Coach? (https://www.nsca.com/cscs-exam-prerequisites/#bd)

It doesn’t. It is a money grab and the “notoriety” of the actual cert is watered down in my eyes instead of using other methods like:  a four year degree in the field of health sciences, a CPT with a documented time period of training hours under your belt to verify your work, a practical exam which isn’t just a test but a video submission where you talk about a certain assigned topic relevant to sports performance and have to show verbal competence in it, and by doing the aforementioned they can earn the right to call the CSCS a cert worth studying for instead of using their leverage to pretend it matters more than experience, work, and in the trenches knowledge.

Having said all that, I am working towards the NASM-CPT right now so I can use that to get their PES.

I am planning a future trip to earn the CPPS which is an incredible certification and in my opinion is one of the best in the business for what I do.

Even with all that paper education under my belt, my best teacher was time, opening books, learning from mistakes, attending seminars, calling my peers for advice, listening to those better than me, and doing all of them repeatedly.