Kilee Taflinger is just one of two female strength and conditioning coaches working with a Division I men’s basketball program (top Division in the NCAA) in the US. Working with athletes over 100lbs heavier than?herself, Kilee works hard to ensure she is up to the task of supporting athletes during their lifting and to encourage accountability within their training.
Below, Kilee give us an insight into her day to day coaching, her philosophies and how she got one of the top S&C roles in the NCAA.
So how does a 30 year old 5 foot 9 woman end up being the strength and conditioning coach to 6 foot 9 Division 1 male basketball players?
I was fortunate enough to be able to assist when our men’s basketball strength coach, Adam Fletcher, got the job in May 2012. I worked right alongside him for the past two seasons and when he left to take the men’s basketball strength job at Illinois our men’s basketball coach asked him who he would suggest to takeover and both agreed I was best for the job. It was a seamless transition for myself and the team.
Where does your confidence stem from in this coaching role?
I believe you have to be confident to be a good coach and teacher. You are looked upon as a leader and role model. I want my teams to be confident when they take the court or field and that starts in the weight room. I feel that strength breeds confidence. I never felt nervous or intimidated, athletes can sense that type of thing. Confident and prepared at all times.
From a practical point of view, how do you manage with coaching tasks such as spotting the heavy weights of your athletes, particularly if they can lift a lot more than you are able to?
I believe in practicing what you preach. It is important to be able to spot and help your athletes rack and unrack weights. There will be times that athletes will come in for an extra lift or circuit and it is great to be able to jump in and complete it with them every once in a while. I certainly believe that builds respect that your athletes see that you are able to do what they are at times, and you certainly need to be able to demonstrate the exercises your program as well.
For any type of squat variation we make sure to utilize or safety bars if they fail then those are there to grab the barbell. For a bench press spot I am comfortable spotting the guys, most of the time they are helping you on the concentric portion, so I am not exactly grabbing 150kg off their chest. There are certainly instances where I will utilize the athletes to spot each other as well, it helps build accountability to each other.
Can you tell us about your coach education background; what courses or programmes have you attended and what was your experience of them like?
Bachelor’s in exercise science from Ball State University
Master’s in exercise physiology from University of Louisville
I made sure to intern in college. It is important to see different coaching philosophies and programs. It helps to build you into the strength coach you want to be, and there is no subsititue for experience. There are just some things you cannot learn from a book or class room, you need to be on the floor coaching and correcting.
What does an average coaching day look like for you?
Women?s lacrosse conditioning 7-740
Men?s lacrosse lift groups 8-9 and 9-10
I will get a lift in/office work between 10-12
Men’s basketball lift 1-2
Men’s basketball practice 2-4
Finish up any other programs, emails, or office work 430-6ish
I go to bed pretty early, usually 9 or 9.30pm
What advice would you give to other women who want to follow strength and conditioning as a career?
I would intern and gain experience as much as possible. Networking is very important in our profession. Continue to learn and grow as a coach always, accept and learn from constructive criticism.
What tips would you give to other coaches out there who are looking to strengthen up there athletes?
Keep it simple. Be really really, good at 6-8 things, don?t go for the cool factor with exercise selection. Stay consistent and always have a long term plan for your athletes. Educate your athletes on why being strong is so important. Oh and SQUAT!
What are your future coaching ambitions?
Currently living my dream as being a strength coach for men?s basketball. I hope to continue to learn and grow as a strength coach, and make a positive impact in my student athlete’s lives daily.