Today I am elated to introduce our second presenter for The 2019 Seminar, Sam Gardner. Sam presently is out on the west coach working with our countries top athletes, training and  working as a physiologist at the USOC with both the Olympic and Paralympic Sport Athletes. I think that when you take a gander through this intro you’ll be as excited to welcome Sam to this summers CVASPS as I am. If you want a bit more on Sam and his great work out in Cali, take a listen to Episode 107 of The Podcast. Enough of me, let’s me Sam Gardner: 

JD: If you could, please give our readers a little background information about you, what your niche in the world of athletics is, accomplishments, how you got there, education, any products you have available and/or notable publications.

SG: Background:

I am privileged to currently serve as the lead Strength Physiologist / Strength and Conditioning Coach for US Paralympic Sports (USP) within the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sports Performance division. I am in my 8thseason supporting Team USA working as a strength and conditioning coach with various Olympic and Paralympic sport-folios. I have been fortunate to have worked within other multidisciplinary performance teams such as: US Special Forces Command (SOCOM) aiding the 1stMarine Special Operation Battalion (MARSOC); and also within professional basketball (NBA / NBDL) in the Athletic Performance department acting as an extension of the Golden State Warriors while overseeing the athletic development program for the Santa Cruz Warriors in their inaugural season.


Being blessed to have been granted the title “Coach” with athletes categorized amongst multiple stages of development and performance (junior high, high school, collegiate, semi pro, professional, Olympic and Paralympic) I feel as though I am very much a ‘generalist’. I do not know that I have earned the right to claim a “niche”. When I worked with youth athletes I was known as a developmental coach, when I worked with Olympic athletes I was known as a Team USA guy, while working in professional hoops I was often viewed as a basketball guy, while working with special forces I had a new label as a tactical strength coach, and now that my primary coaching focus lies within Paralympic sport – I have been considered an adaptablecoach. I have always enjoyed the challenge of assessing various situations and attempting to provide a plan for what I feel is the most practical performance solution for that specific environment or individual: athlete, coach, team/program, performance team, etc – while learning from and collaborating with other performance service providers who are the subject matter experts in their respective fields.


Any “accomplishment” I may be associated with was not earned by myself. The athletes I am honored to work with perform all the training, while the sport coaches drive the program. I am fortunate to work within a performance TEAM and hopefully we all played a positive role in supporting and serving the athletes and coaches who truly earned the following accomplishment examples:

  • Suppotring medalists from the London, Sochi, and most recently Rio Games
  • Chula Vista Olympic Training Center:
    • Rio Games: 11 medals from Olympic Programs – 14 from Paralympic Programs
    • Athletics Program: 5 medals earned in Rio Olympics (2G, 3S)
    • USP Track and Field Program: 42 medals earned – most by any one sporting group in Olympic/Paralympic competition since 1968
    • USP Track and Field Program – followed up 2016 success at 2017 Worlds by sending a team of 50 athletes who earned 42 medals
    • World/Olympic/Paralympic records in multiple Running, Jumping, and Throwing events
  • 2012/2013 Santa Cruz Warriors:
    • Made it to the final game of the NBDL Finals in inaugural season
    • 3 NBA call-ups
    • D League DPOY
    • D League MIP
    • D League All Star Game MVP
    • D League all defense members on 1st, 2ndand 3rdteam
    • All D League Team 2ndunit, and 2 honorable mentions
    • D League rookie team 1stteam member
    • Finished season with 3 team members ranked in top 5 of NBA watch list


M.S. High Performance Sport; Australian Catholic University (currently pursuing)

M.S. Strength and Conditioning; Bridgewater State University

B.S. Movement Sciences; Westfield State University

JD: Discuss with us the mistakes you see made by strength and conditioning coaches in the United States and around the world, and what you feel should be done differently/how to correct these issues.

SG: I can only share mistakes that I myself have made. To generalize assumptions from other people’s work when you do not have the full story would be myopic in my opinion. It would be easier to jump to conclusions after seeing a snapshot (1 rep, 1 set, 1 movement, 1 session, 1 week of training, 1 month) of someone else’s work instead of realizing there are MANY factors at stake you may not be privy to or witnessing in that specific time stamp.

A few of the mistakes I can admit to making in my young career are:

  • Not taking a breath or finding time to reflect and enjoy myself
  • Not putting enough time into relationships OUTSIDE of my work
  • Placing too much emphasis on the weight room / max strength
  • Not marrying myself to the sport coach and working towards efficient ways to support their program
  • Not placing enough emphasis on relationships with athletes and coaches
  • Being fooled into placing too much merit on the outcome instead of consistently focusing on the process
  • Skipping steps in the developmental process
  • Worrying about other professionals’ opinions of my work
  • Not realizing that training is training – and focusing too much only on the training of which I am involved with
  • Zooming too far in and losing sight of the global picture
  • Seeing the world through the hole in the middle of a weight plate
  • Worrying too much about the nice to dos/haves and not concentrating enough on the need to do/haves.

Hopefully these mistakes I have made and others I continue to make on a daily/weekly basis are only failures if I do not learn from them and continue to work towards improvements.

JD: What advice would you give a coach to improve knowledge in the lines of continuing education, meaning could you point our readers in a direction to find the scientific and practical information to improve the methods they use to improve performance?

SG: I truly believe the best way to get better at the art of coaching is to spend more time coaching. Get out of your comfort zone and work with different sports, levels of athletes, personalities, etc. Stay open minded and realize there probably isn’t only one best practice for every situation you are going to encounter.  I would encourage all coaches to think critically – and not just copy and paste. Respect the work of those who have come before you. Attempt to check your ego at the door on your way into your office each and every day.

As far as learning more about the sciences that can support you as a coach – realize that it will be nearly impossible for one researcher/practitioner to be a true expert in multiple areas of the sports science umbrella. Along the lines of it often taking someone 30 years to be an “overnight sensation” – “experts” spend a lot of time learning about one specific area. I think it would be wise to seek knowledge from those professionals who know more about your given area of interest than you do and to remain a critical thinker while rationalizing how that information might aid you in your specific environment.

JD: If you could give a brief description of what our attendees can expect from you at The Seminar?

SG: I hope to provide attendees some insight into US Paralympic sport:

  • What Paralympic sport is
  • How Team USA is working towards supporting Paralympic sport
  • Why I love working with Paralympic athletes

While providing some real life transparent and practical examples.

JD:  Any closing thoughts?

SG: Thank you Jay for all that you do.

Who is Sam Gardner?

Samuel Gardner is currently in his 8thseason supporting Team USA as a Strength and Conditioning Coach, working with medalists from the London, Sochi and Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. He is in his first year in a newly created role as a Strength Physiologist working with US Paralympic sport and currently oversees strength and conditioning resident and rotational programs at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO and at the Olympic Training Site in Chula Vista, CA. He has also served as an Athletic Development Coach in professional basketball supporting the Golden State and Santa Cruz Warriors and as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Marine Special Forces Operators (MARSOC).

Sam is certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a RSCC and CSCS*D and has spent time as a board member of the NSCA Weightlifting Special Interest Group (SIG) and as an editor for the Sports Performance Journaland Coaches Journal. He is also dual certified through USA Weightlifting (USAW) as a Sports Performance Coach and Club Coach. He is a Level-1 certified USA Track and Field (USATF) Coach, Level-1 Functional Movement Systems (FMS), Level-1 Anthropometrist through the International Society of Anthropometrics (ISAK), Level-1 Precision Nutrition Coach and a Nike SPARQ Certified Tester. Sam is currently working towards his second master’s degree through Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Masters of High-Performance Sport program.

Book your seat for The 2019 Seminar by clicking the link here:


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