For Canadian athletes striving to achieve podium success in Rio, the strength and conditioning (S&C) coach plays a pivotal support role in helping to create winning performances when it matters most. Drawing on the methods and rigour of a scientist combined with the art and craft of a coach, the S&C coach can wear many hats and carries a large toolbox to help athletes and coaches achieve their desired goals. The journey to success in S&C is slow and time-consuming, undertaken many years before the Olympic games begin. Athlete dedication to the process of S&C through consistent and deliberate hard work in the daily training environment is the key to maximizing the benefits of this service.
The primary role of an S&C coach is to increase the capacity and quality of physical and physiological traits such as strength, speed, endurance, power, in order give an athlete the tools to achieve their goals. Working closely with the sport coach, the S&C coach helps to create and administer a testing battery to measure improvements in key performance indicators that have been identified to enhance the physical and technical skills that are most important to success in the sport performance. The S&C coach collaborates with the other integrated support team members and uses the information gathered from physiology, biomechanics, mental performance, sports medicine/therapy and nutrition to develop and deliver training programs that safely and effectively enhance the game day performances. During this process the S&C coach educates athletes and coaches on proper training techniques and methodologies to mitigate injury risk and increase durability to handle the demands of training for their sport.
At CSIO headquarters in Toronto, the Men’s and Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team train with our S&C team in our fully accessible and para-focussed training facility. Their primary objective is working to enhance athletes’ abilities to produce and withstand the high forces and impulses encountered during competition. The end goal is to transfer these improvements to the court so athletes can propel and manipulate their chairs in order to outpace and gain a tactical advantage over their opponents. Also by increasing the athletes’ strength and work capacities, it will better prepare them to tolerate the heavy workloads and repetitive stresses that accumulate over the duration of the tournament at the Paralympic Games.
In London, at our Rowing Canada satellite facility, the S&C team has developed and built a one of a kind piece of strength equipment designed to increase athletes’ strength and force development at key points in the rowing stroke. Additionally, daily monitoring of recovery and sleep has given the coaches information to modify their training programs on a daily basis so that each athlete can maximize the improvements from their training.
For Volleyball Canada’s beach athletes, who are currently on an international tour, the S&C coach’s responsibilities include implementing training sessions between competitions, pre-game warm up programs, and post-game recovery protocols. When they aren’t on the road chasing the sun and sand they can be found at CSIO receiving in-depth testing and individualized training programs to address specific needs and improve their physical capacities with respect to their style of play. This includes collaboration with the biomechanics and performance analysis team to evaluate and improve jump characteristics, as well as the nutrition team to optimize competition hydration strategies and enhance power to weight ratios. Through this intense collaborative effort, the beach volleyball athletes have been provided with the physical capacities and knowledge to thrive during the intensely rigorous Olympic qualification process.
When it comes time for the athletes to move into the Olympic Village in Rio, the S&C coach jobs are done and the athletes will have all the physical tools necessary to give their best performances when it matters most. Countless hours sweating it out in the gym to support one glorious moment on the podium. Best of luck in Rio to our athletes from the CSIO S&C team!
About Canadian Sport Institute Ontario
Located at the new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, a legacy facility of the Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, Canadian Sport Institute Ontario (CSIO) is a non-profit organization committed to the pursuit of excellence by providing world-class programs, services, and leadership to high performance athletes and coaches to enhance their ability to achieve international podium performances. CSIO offers athletes a range of sport science and sport medicine services including nutrition, physiology, biomechanics, strength & conditioning, mental performance, sport therapy and life services. CSIO also delivers programming and services to National and Provincial Sport Organizations and coaches to work towards building a stronger sport system in Ontario and Canada.
CSIO services approximately 700 high performance athletes and 250 coaches, at its main facility at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, its satellite location at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton, and in daily training environments across Ontario. CSIO is part of a larger network of 4 institutes and 3 multi-sport centres across the country known as the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Sport Institute Network, working in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee. CSIO is further supported by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Sport Canada, Own the Podium, and the Coaching Association of Canada, along with the National and Provincial Sport Organizations within the sector.
The CSIO Strength & Conditioning Team