Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An Interview with Sam Leahey

1. Sam ,thanks for your time. Could you give my readers your background, and how you came to be a strength and conditioning coach?

My educational background is in Exercise Science and Physical Education. I doubled majored in those two areas and also earned a minor in Sport Coaching. This fall I intend to get my masters degree in Applied Exercise Science as well. I played both Division 1 and 3 sports in college and I would say that being an athlete was the initial stage of my S&C passion.
I always had a passion for program design and the “process” leading up to game day. As the years went by I found myself wanting to learn more and more about that process of training for particular sport season. The more strength and conditioning coaches I came in contact with the more intrigued I became and the more I wanted to learn about training athletes of all types.
The very first respected S&C Coach I learned of was Coach Michael Boyle. I devoured every book he wrote and from those readings came to find more strength coaches who exhibited a passion for the “process” of enhancing athleticism over the long term. The snowball effect continued on and here I am calling Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, Jeff Oliver, and Brijesh Patel mentors.

2. What, in your opinion, is the biggest problems you see within the fitness industry today?

Young coaches/trainers who (all quotes from Nick Tumminello):
“Would rather be right than helpful”
“Mistakes your personal opinions for facts”
“Tells other professionals “this is how you should do things” over saying “this is how I do things”
“Who thinks they are smarter than the human body”
“Thinks they need to fix everybody’s problems”
“Trains to your bias”
“Tries to be cool instead being effective”
“Forgets who’s session it really is”
“Is overly stuck on the science”
“Uses Exercise as Punishment”

3. You recently started an internship with Eric Cressey. How is this going for you so far?

It’s been amazing. It hasn’t been a total paradigm shift but certainly modifies my thought process in terms of program design, priorities, time management skills of a S&C Coach, movement, and host of other topics that would take too long to articulateJ In my opinion every young coach like ourselves should seek out numerous internships. At the same time I think maximizing your time spent at each place is equally as crucial. I really find it odd when a fellow college student does an internship and all they do is the required amount of work. For some facilities and colleges that’s hardly anything! You really need to go above and beyond in most cases and sometimes even “pull out” experiences that you would not otherwise have if you didn’t actively pursue them yourself.

4. Who has had the biggest influence on you as a coach?

Mike Boyle, Eric Cressey, Jeff Oliver, Brijesh Patel, and Jeremy Frisch.

5. What is your all-time favourite book in the following areas:

Strength Training: The Science and Practice of Strength Training and Functional Training for Sports (i can’t pick which one had the biggest impact on me so I’m listing them bothJ)
Physical Therapy Rehabilitation: Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes
Nutrition : Precision Nutrition
Random: The Bible

6. What do you do to for your continuing education (Seminars attended etc) and what resources that are out there would you recommend to young up and coming coaches (Podcasts, Websites, Blogs, Products)?

Ø Read, read, and then read some more books, ebooks, articles, and blogs!
Ø Listen to
Ø Watch webinars at
Ø Attend Perform Better Summit, MBSC Winter Seminars, Cressey Performance Seminars, and any conference/seminar a local college is having.
Ø Listen to audio books in the car
Ø Networking with other coaches/trainers

7. If you had to pick one exercise, and one exercise only, what would it be and why?

This question seems to be pretty common and I think I would have to agree with Coach Boyle on this one – a Sled Push. However I’d do it two different ways:
Ø As a general strength exercise – heavy and slow. This way you’re getting foot, knee, core, scapular, and elbow stability, single leg strength, etc.
Ø As a special strength exercise – lighter and explosive, almost sprinting/bounding. This way you’re still getting the above benefits but now you’re getting single leg power.
Done both ways you can cover any part of the strength-speed curve with added benefits of foot, knee, core, scapular, and elbow stability.

8. Last question. What advice would you give to other young coaches, like us getting into the field?

In the purist sense:
Ø Be Humble
Ø Don’t bad mouth other coaches/trainers to other coaches/trainers, both young and old. Keep stuff to yourself if it’s not positive, otherwise it will always come back to stain your reputation later on. If you’re going crazy and you just HAVE to tell someone, then tell someone you trustJ
Ø Pay Your Respects
Ø Figure out what’s important to you and push EVERYTHING else aside. From there, go out and TAKE what you want in this life. “Impossible” is just an excuse not to try!
Ø If you’re not reaching you’re goals then you’re not doing what it takes, period! Bill Parcells once said:
“Blame No One, Expect Nothing, DO SOMETHING!”
I think it applies here. If a young buck like us wants to have their own training facility at a young age like Eric Cressey did, go out and get it! Put it all out on the line and do what it takes! Same is true if you want to be the head strength coach of a big time division one college, go get it!

Sam, thank you so much for your time. Where can my readers find out more about you?

They can email me at or my facebook pageJ I purposely don’t have a blog or a website . . . yet. I think too many young people nowadays have a blog, website, or other mediums through which their promoting themselves through. Yet they haven’t done crap in reality! Guys like you Robbie are the exception.
Thanks for the interview my man and I hope people can relate to the things I’ve said here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Robbie, best of luck with the blog. Good stuff already. Good to see somebody else like-minded in GAA. If you get a chance drop me a line sometime to love to meet up for a coffee and a chat. Best of luck. Paul Clarke