Recovery, Goal Setting and Career Development
Ron Mckeefery is a nationally recognized leader in the area of sports development. He has consistently brought American football players from developing athletes to early round draft picks.
His passion for the role and research has led him to the position of Director of Strength and Conditioning at Eastern Michigan University.
Ron is constantly researching and collaborating with his colleagues and presents an ongoing podcast series specifically aimed at strength and conditioning methods and experiences shared by himself and his peers.
We spoke with Ron to find out how he made his start in the industry and what advice he had for other coaches regarding mentoring, research and the recovery process.
Was there a lot of competition for the internship position you obtained with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? If so, what gave you an edge over others vying for the opportunity?
It has been a long time since completing my internship with the Buccaneers, but I can think of no better catalyst for what has happened in my career than that experience. An internship with an NFL organisation is extremely competitive. Several hundred applicants and they took four. Even within the four there was an internal competition for two paid season interns.
I was fortunate to be kept as one of the two, but almost didn’t get selected at all. They had a concern on if I was trying to get my foot into the door as a football coach, since that is what my resume pointed to. Up until that point I had worked as a volunteer football coach where I played to gain some coaching experience. I was able to get a phone interview based on persistence, and believe my passion won out in the end, convincing them I wanted to be a strength coach.
What are some ways strength and conditioning coaches can identify and develop their unique selling positions?
The field of Strength and Conditioning is very competitive, especially if you want to be at the highest level. Most young coaches believe that if they become qualified (Degree and Certifications) and are a hard worker they should be considered for any job. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. For the most part every strength coach is qualified, and works hard. You must figure out what makes you unique.
As a Head Strength Coach I try to hire coaches that have strengths in areas I have weaknesses. To develop a unique selling position you should look for areas like technology that veteran strength coaches may not have been exposed to. Becoming an expert in an area also helps you position yourself. To be a great strength coach you must have good knowledge on all areas, but there is tremendous value in having an expert in an area on your staff.
You’ve managed to learn from the mistakes of others, has the reverse situation happened to you where a junior colleague learnt from your experiences?
I believe this happens every day. I have had the opportunity to mentor a lot of young coaches, and it seems I get an email a day with questions or asking advice. I have developed a whole internship program Strength Coach Basic Training based around mistakes that I made that I believe will help strength coaches accelerate their career. I think the most common is confidence. A lot of young coaches are concerned with moving on because they feel they are not ready. You are never fully ready for any experience, however until you’re forced out of your comfort zone you never truly grow.