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Stockel touts benefits of certified strength coaches

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Apr 29, 2016 at 5:56 PM

As a weightlifting coach, C.J. Stockel has worked with elite athletes like NFL players and Olympians.

Speaking at a luncheon held by the ETSU Center for Sports Science and Coach Education and co-hosted by Watauga Orthopaedics, he said the greatest benefit a certified strength coach can offer to high school coaches, athletic directors and school administrators isn’t the work with a star athlete. Instead, it’s helping those kids who aren’t in the spotlight.

“On a football team, you might have the five top athletes, but you have the 55-60 other kids you are working with,” he said. “You’re building a foundation from the ground up and you’re building a work ethic for life. Wins and losses come and go, but it’s about the lives you touch.”

Stockel also talked about the resources which Tri-Cities area coaches have with ETSU’s Olympic Training Site, which is headed by renown strength coaches Mike and Meg Stone.

In addition to her own experience as a two-time Olympic discus thrower, Meg Stone made history as the first female strength coach for a major college football program at the University of Arizona where she closely worked with future Hall of Fame linebacker Tedy Bruschi.

Stockel explained that Mike Stone was the one who certified him as a strength coach in 1989 and he is glad to see the Science Hill football team now working with his program.

Science Hill coach Stacy Carter was one of several school representatives from Washington, Sullivan and Greene counties who attended Thursday’s luncheon. He said his team has already seen benefits working with Stone with increased strength and decreased injuries.

“As football coaches, we get in a habit of doing things the way it used to be becasue that’s the way we were trained,” Carter said. “These people have put it to the test and researched it. Just because something has been done that way forever doesn’t mean it’s the correct way. You’re seeing so much how important it is for the proper techniques. What a resource we have with Dr. Stone right here.”

When it comes to strength, Stockel explained it’s not just how much a person can bench press or how much they squat. His programs work on speed, agility and movement. In the case of a football or basketball player, he might work on vertical leap, but just as important as how high they go, it’s working how a player lands so as not as likely to get injured.

“You have to learn how to move, to cut and to land,” he said. “Being able to decelerate, it’s important. When you’re doing these lifts. You’re learning to decelerate with proper posture and balance so the body and nervous system knows how to act.

“There is a science behind it. You have to think about how movements affect a player on the field and what you can do with injury prevention. That goes back to why you train.

Stockel, a former football coach, has worked with athletes like Cleveland Browns quarterback Connor Shaw and Jenny Arthur, who in January became the first U.S. weightlifter to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

He doesn’t like the specialization among some high school athletes today. He believes that playing multiple sports better prepares them for the next level and the variety of movements used in different sports helps prevent injuries.

“You hear it from the highest point you can find with Urban Meyer that he’s going to recruit multiple-sport athletes,” Stockel said. “It develops the body better and teaches them how to move. Kids also need to decompress and have fun. I have a friend of mine whose son plays baseball year-round. Every weekend, there is a game. He’s not resting. When I was coaching, if a kid played another sport, he had a week off before he could come out on the field. One thing we don’t think about enough is rest and recovery.”

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