Death of the First Generation Strength Coach

Jul 25, 2022

We are seeing the future and in some cases it's not pretty. On one hand we are seeing the highest salaries ever paid in the field of strength and conditioning. On the other hand we are seeing the same trend we see in many industries, older employees being replaced by younger employees.

Unfortunately many strength and conditioning coaches have not planned for the inevitable and the inevitable is that you may not go out on your own terms.

Many of us started in this profession 30 plus years ago and never thought about the end game.  Retirement? We'd coach forever, die with our boots on like in the old western's.

Sadly, that's not happening. Suddenly strength coaches are finding themselves in their fifties with no pensions, not enough money saved and sometimes no job.

My advice? Start planning now. As with many professions, you will age out even if you never planned to.

I was talking about this to another veteran strength and conditioning coach, Bob Alejo, and he had a great observation;

“Have you ever been to a retirement party for a strength coach?'

Now think about the flip side. Have you seen a strength coach in his fifties suddenly get let go, reassigned etc.?

Check out this advice from Bob - "Four Words: Four-Oh-One-Kay"

My first big job was at UCLA in August of 1984. And, as I was receiving what I thought was a million dollars ($11,500 full-time), I didn't put a nickel in my 410k…not a cent! I was saying to myself, why wouldn't I take the entire paycheck and use it all! Twenty-seven years old and a Wall Street savant I was not. Big mistake. At the same time there was really no tutoring on the subject either. Had I known you didn't have to invest butt-loads of money to gain on a working-lifetime investment, it made no sense to me. Since, I've certainly learned my lesson but like some of you will, I learned too late.

Certainly this is not a financial lesson here, but the simple construct of a 401k is tax deferred money, compounding interest (look it up), in many instances institutions/organizations will match your contribution to the account (ex., you contribute $1.00, they contribute $.50) and surprisingly, automatic deposit (taken as a deduction from your paycheck) can be chosen which has been proven to be much more effective and committal to saving money or any kind.

Sadly, you'll never escape the inevitable that at some point you won't be working and you'll need income! Grasp it, embrace the truth! The 401k can make that easier unless you're going to build a teepee and live off the land with your significant other and maybe kids. There are no shortage of stories and mathematical examples of modest amounts of money over time becoming large six or even seven figure sums. If you do it young and do it right, that will be your story.

Every young strength and conditioning coach needs to read books on finance.

Start with

The Richest Man in Babylon 


Move to

The Millionaire Next Door


Then read

The Slight Edge


All I can think of is the scene from White Christmas (if you remember this movie you might be retired, unemployed or in danger of becoming unemployed).

 “What do you do with a general when he stops being a general?”

 “What do you do with a strength coach when he stops being a strength coach.”

 Just some advice. Think about your end game. Think about what you'll do both personally and financially when some thirty something coach or AD decides you've lost your fast ball.


I know this may sound alarmist or fatalistic but, just do me a favor and start giving it some thought.