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Starting Strength in the Real World


The Starting Strength Coaches Association: Coming Along Nicely

by John F Musser, SSC | August 10, 2017

2017 starting strength coaches association conference

The October 2012 inaugural Starting Strength Coaches Association (SSCA) Conference was held at the Wichita Falls Athletic Club, and it was a great success. As Rip mentioned on the forums at the time, “If you missed it, there is a hole in your experience.” Attendance and quality has increased every year. I just returned from the Sixth Annual SSCA Conference, and for those interested in the benefits of being strong and contributing to our efforts, there is much to be excited about.

Early in 2012 I attended the Starting Strength Seminar in Atlanta with the hopes of improving my lifts and better understanding the Starting Strength Model. Prior to my arrival I studied the books and forums, watched the videos and most importantly ran the linear progression to its conclusion. I really had no idea what I was getting into.

The quality of the material and delivery exceeded my already high expectations. It quickly became absolutely crucial for me to not only learn as much as I could, but pass the platform evaluation and get a shot at the written test. Very seldom does one have the opportunity to be around such talented people, and I had to be a part of it.

I passed the platform, received the test and invested a significant amount of time answering the questions completely. During multiple edits I would occasionally try to convince myself to leave well enough alone, after all, it was probably good enough. However, Rip himself was going to be grading the damn thing, and I kept at it to deliver the best product I could.

A short while after submitting the test, Rip sent me an email saying simply, “Call me.” He congratulated me on passing the test and earning my Starting Strength Coach Certificate.

Ever since Atlanta I had been defining an idea for Rip to consider, and now I had him on the phone. Attending the seminar is a significant event, and becoming a Starting Strength Coach is profoundly more significant, I explained. People want to continue to be a part of it, they want to contribute, to get together, to learn from each other, to discuss the shared experience. “Rip, have you ever considered starting a coaches association?”  

We discussed potential learning opportunities for Starting Strength Coaches, requirements to maintain certification, and conferences for everyone to get together. It was during this conversation that the Starting Strength Coaches Association was created. I had prepared a couple of documents just in case, and Rip asked me to send them to him because he “had a guy” (Campitelli, I’ll bet) in mind to take the lead.

The Starting Strength Coaches Association (SSCA) quickly went from a good idea to reality. Coaches started receiving emails describing the organization, and a date was set for the first conference. I didn’t make the first conference, (a hole in my experience), however I have been at each one since.

The early conferences involved some pretty heated discussions. Starting Strength Coaches are often exceptionally successful people, and are extremely passionate about what they do. Most importantly, SSCs are very protective of Starting Strength. When you get a group of people like this together, things can become difficult to manage pretty quickly. Despite some especially contentious moments, it was not unusual to see coaches seeking out the ones they had been arguing with, to shake hands, to part under good circumstances.

In case you haven’t noticed, Rip has a pretty strong personality himself, and he was able to keep the group focused and move things forward. We now have Starting Strength Gyms, a SSC Registry, SSC Intern Programs, Strengthlifting Meets, university-level strength classes being taught by SSCs, speaking engagements promoting the value of strength, increased social media presence, the wildly successful Starting Strength Online Coaching, and most recently a multi-stop coordinated book tour to promote the important work of Sully and Andy Baker in The Barbell Prescription.

In addition to constantly refining the model and the coaching method, we have gotten much better at delivering our message to those who need it. Articles directed at a more mainstream audience, the language we use and our method of presentation are just a few examples of how we have evolved. We need to continue to get better at delivering our message.

The 2017 SSCA Conference was a perfect example of how much the organization has grown in such a short amount of time. The presentations were superb, the food delicious, and being around the best strength coaches in the world is a unique and worthwhile experience. We covered a lot of important topics in discussions and meetings concerning the direction of the SSCA.

  • The most important: the requirements for earning a Starting Strength Coaching Credential will not be compromised. It is, and always will be, the most prestigious and relevant credential with the highest requirements.
  • The Starting Strength Model and the Coaches will continue to evolve and improve. An SSC is always learning.
  • We need more Starting Strength Coaches. In addition to the current intern programs, we are in the process of developing a path for potential coaches to improve themselves and help them prepare for the exceptionally difficult evaluation and testing process.
  • We need help spreading the message and reaching those who need it the most. To facilitate this, the SSCA is developing a mechanism for those who are not Starting Strength Coaches to participate in and contribute to the SSCA. This is not yet fully defined, however we know there are a tremendous amount of talented people who are not SSCs who can and want to help.

Getting and staying strong is the single most important thing a person can do to improve their quality of life. The Starting Strength Model is the best method for getting someone strong. We need to get the message to those who need it the most.


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