My name is Adam Nelson, and I have been newly hired by the Center for Physical Rehabilitation in Grand Rapids, Michigan as the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School. I am eager to begin building upon the athletic tradition at CC, as well as contributing to the mission of CPR when it comes to exceeding the expectations of my athletes and the coaches I work with. I could not have asked to be associated with two better organizations.
I grew up in St. Clair Shores, Michigan as the oldest of 3. After graduating from U of D Jesuit High School in 2011, I subsequently enrolled at Alma College, where I studied Integrative Physiology and Health Science and played football for the Scots. Growing up in a house full of athletes (my mom Linda ran track at Saginaw Valley, my dad Howard played football at Saginaw Valley, my sister Erin played basketball at Albion College, and my brother Scotty plays football at the University of Wisconsin), I knew I wanted to pursue a career in athletics. After graduation, I completed a summer internship with Wayne State Strength and Conditioning. Soon after, I was hired onto the Strength and Conditioning staff at Michigan State University. After working in East Lansing for the 2015-16 school year, I accepted a position at Old Dominion University as an Assistant Sports Performance Coach. I held that position until I was invited to return to MSU as a Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach in the fall of 2016. I remained in that role until just recently coming on board with CPR in April. Since earning my undergraduate degree, I have become certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a Level 1 Olympic Weightlifting Coach through Unites States of America Weightlifting, and a Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. These are in addition to my Bachelor’s degree in Integrative Physiology and Health Science from Alma, and my Master’s degree in Kinesiology from Michigan State.
I love the weight room because it is an equal playing field. Athletes will enter the weight room for the first time with a whole range of strength levels, but no athlete can increase his/her strength significantly without spending consistent time under a barbell. There are no shortcuts when it comes to real physical preparation. This is why I began to love the weight room atmosphere in the first place. I believe that it is a great metaphor for life, in that there is no way around hard work to make real improvements. An athlete cannot all of a sudden “flip the switch” and show massive increases in the weight room without the hard work invested to make those advances.
Why High School S&C?
Having spent all my time in college strength and conditioning with a small amount of time in the “private sector,” one might ask why I sought out a job in high school strength and conditioning. First of all, I saw the effects that having a qualified strength and conditioning professional can have on college freshmen athletes. Those with quality high school S&C coaches entered college with a solid foundation from which to build upon. This means they knew how to perform basic weight room movements (squat, deadlift, push-up, etc.) proficiently. Those athletes that came from schools that lacked a qualified S&C coach were behind the curve. They had to progress at a much slower pace than others because they required so much time just to be taught the movements correctly (or re-taught if they were instructed poorly). This teaching/re-teaching process was frustrating for me, and I began to think about transitioning to becoming the coach that was able to lay the athletic foundation on the front end, instead of the coach cleaning it up on the back end. Second, I believe that youth at the high school age are very malleable physically and psychologically. They are at a time in their development when they are very physically responsive to strength training. I also believe that showing kids how to work hard, receive coaching respectfully, and communicate with one another can develop into beneficial habits that can be retained for years to come.
The series of blog posts to be released shortly will cover how resistance training can improve athlete durability, athletic performance, and even mental health. There will also be a post specifically addressing resistance training and the female high school athlete.
The goal of this blog is to clearly explain the basics of high school strength and conditioning, without leaving anything to the imagination. Too many coaches try to impress those around them without explaining the nuts and bolts of these concepts. My goal is to explain the basics, show what the scientific research actually says about resistance training, and demystify what we do (and do not do) as strength and conditioning coaches.