The Leadership Techniques and Practices of Elite Collegiate Strength and Conditioning

Authors: Mike Voight, Ann Hickey, Michael Piper

Corresponding Author:
Mike Voight, Ph.D.
PEHP Department
Central Connecticut State University
1615 Stanley Drive
New Britain, CT 06050

Dr. Mike Voight is a professor in the Physical Education and Human Performance Department at Central Connecticut State University where he teaches graduate courses in leadership, sport psychology, and sport sociology. His email is, and his website is

Dr. Ann Hickey is an associate professor at Whittier College (CA) where she teaches sport psychology.

Michael Piper is assistant strength coach at Central Connecticut State University.

Leadership development has been given more attention in the field of strength and conditioning. Particular topics of interest have included how important a training ground and learning laboratory the university strength and conditioning space is for leadership development, the styles of leadership among strength coaches, leadership behavior, roles, job responsibilities and analyses of NCAA Division 1 strength and conditioning coaches, becoming a more valuable asset to the athletic program, and improving buy-in and leadership (Brooks, Ziatz, Johnson & Hollander, 2000; Feldman, 2013; Magnusen, 2010; Massey, Vincent, & Maneval, 2004; Voight, 2014).

The purpose of this investigation was to interview elite strength and conditioning coaches on their use of “best practices” leadership techniques and practices designed to improve player motivation, communication, commitment, and personal/team leadership. To this objective, participants were not only asked about their use of leadership techniques, but what they do to improve the leadership skills of whom they lead. This study used a semi-structured, exploratory interview design, which revealed numerous subthemes which fit into four major themes: leadership behaviors, leadership development, motivational techniques (buy-in), and relationships-communication. Results of this study can be used by current and up-and-coming strength and conditioning professionals to get the most from their own leadership skill sets as well as developing leadership among the teams they train.