Brett Armstrong began his role as the Tigers strength and conditioning coach in the spring of 2019. A key member of the Integrated Support Team (IST) in place for each varsity team that includes head coaches, assistant coaches, physiotherapists and trainers, he is responsible for the strength and conditioning program that supports all 14 varsity teams.
He got his start as a member of the student-trainer program with the women’s volleyball team. After two seasons as a trainer, he moved on to the role of strength and conditioning coach with the team, playing an integral role in extending the team’s eight-consecutive conference championship titles.
There is a lot of value in having Tigers student-athletes training in the same place and the addition of a new high performance room with the addition of the Fitness Centre to Dalplex provided that opportunity. Teams work out together and it builds a foundation of being connected and supported when you get a chance to be work out and be pushed by other athletes both on and off the playing surface. All that was needed was someone to lead the program.
Armstrong’s demonstrated success, commitment and knowledge working with the women’s volleyball team is what led athletics and recreation executive director Tim Maloney to select Armstrong to lead the strength and conditioning program.
“Brett has been and continues to be an integral part of our integrated team supporting our student-athletes,” says Maloney. “Given the impacts of COVID-19, Brett has never been more valuable to our program and we are fortunate to have such an incredible resource who is so dedicated to the success of our student-athletes and teams.”
The resident Kinduct Technologies Athlete Management System (AMS) expert, Armstrong leverages the technology to ensure full support for Tigers student-athletes. The Tigers partnership with Kinduct Technologies began in 2015. He works with coaches to help build team-specific long-term plans and conducts needs analyses for addressing gaps in performance and training. Along with a couple of interns, he conducts and monitors team workouts to prepare student-athletes for competition.
Tigers student-athletes and coaches have fully embraced the role and have nothing but great things to say about the impact Armstrong in particular has had on their experiences.
“I’ve never seen a more dedicated and motivated strength coach than Brett,” says fourth-year women’s volleyball player Julie Moore. “Every workout he is positive and supportive yet pushes us to be our best. He is dedicated to every athlete that crosses his path and truly cares about them as a person. It’s rare to have a strength coach that gets more excited than the athlete when they hit a personal best, he truly celebrates our successes like they are his own. He designs each individual athlete’s program to have us at our best for competition. He is a huge part of our team’s success. We are so lucky to have him as our strength coach.”
Reigning U SPORTS men’s basketball coach of the year Rick Plato agrees.
“Over the last several years, our men’s basketball team has been fortunate to enjoy a considerable amount of success both on and off the court,” he says. “Specifically, the off-court work has taken place largely in the weight room, under the direction and supervision of Brett. It’s no coincidence that our more recent success, including a sliver medal at last year’s national championship goes hand in hand with his arrival as our strength and conditioning coach. Brett is highly motivated and is committed to the growth, development and success of our student-athletes.”
“The most poignant thing for me is the self-confidence that each of our athletes has developed under Brett's tutelage,” adds Plato. “What really stands out to me is the enthusiasm and sincere concern that Brett has for each of the student-athletes under his supervision. I know for certain that our program would not be as successful as it has been without his involvement. We are indeed fortunate to have such a committed individual whose guidance has had such a positive influence on our program.”
Armstrong graduated from Dalhousie with a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology in 2018. He has also completed the National Strength and Conditioning Association certification in strength and conditioning and the NCCP Weightlifting Competition-Introduction course.
In addition to his six years with the Tigers, Armstrong gained valuable experience as a strength coach at Paragenix Systems, working with a variety of athletes in the Ontario Hockey League, Ontario Premier Soccer League and NCAA and U SPORTS leagues.
Armstrong feels good about where the strength and conditioning program is right now and is focused on engaging student-athletes with exciting and enjoyable workouts, while providing an environment that is welcoming to both beginners and advanced athletes with specific training needs. Providing that kind of program is not without it challenges, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Scheduling sessions for all of our teams can be challenging,” says Armstrong. “They all have different practice and competition schedules, not to mention their academic obligations. Staying organized, following a long-term plan and being flexible are important to keep everyone on track.”
“COVID-19 has made things even more challenging,” he continues. “My work with athletes is limited to the field (for soccer) or the high performance room due to time and physical distancing constraints, whereas before I had a greater emphasis on team warm ups and testing athletes in their competition environment. On a more positive note, working in smaller groups has provided a great opportunity to have more one on one time with athletes.”
He also acknowledges it’s not a one-man operation.
“Working with the Faculty of Kinesiology and the Dalhousie Physiotherapy Clinic to keep our athletes healthy is key to our success,” he adds. “We have to continue to leverage our use of technology within our training environment to provide feedback to athletes, coaches, and physiotherapists. Performance is a collaborative approach and my role is to get into the athletes’ domain to truly help teams address performance and planning gaps within their programs.”
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