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Donnell Boucher is in his sixth year at the Citadel Military College of South Carolina. In his six years of employment, he has received three promotions, landing him in his current role as Assistant Athletic Director for Strength and Conditioning. During his tenure at the Citadel, Boucher has coached over a dozen All-Southern Conference Football players, two current National Football League (NFL) players, and one current Major League Baseball (MLB) player. Boucher holds the Strength and Conditioning Coach Certified (SCCC) from the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach’s association (CSCCa) and the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). In December of 2010, he completed his Master’s degree in Health, Exercise and Sport Science from the Citadel.
1. How long have you been working in the field of strength and conditioning?I have worked in the field in different capacities for the past decade. I have been at the Citadel Military College of South Carolina for the past six years and have held four different titles during that time.2. What is your training style/methods regarding training?We put an emphasis on the use of free weights and ground based total body movements through multiple planes. Our primary aim is to protect the health and safety our athletes and our training reflects that. We combine movements, drills and systems that have been time tested and are backed by evidence to create a free flowing and constantly evolving training program. If something can help our athletes play their sport faster, we find a way to implement it and keep their bodies adapting in a positive, desirable fashion.3. How has this training style/methods evolved over the years?I think early on, I tried to do too much. Over the past six years I have been able to really trim the fat and see what is appropriate for our athletes. My training philosophy has become more about quality than quantity and has yielded better results. In my earlier years, I was always quick to get locked into a program; I have found that shifting the focus to the principles is the more intelligent approach.4. Who has influenced you the most throughout your career and why?Two of my biggest influences have been Joe Kenn and Mike Boyle. Both of them exhibited a willingness to challenge the status quo in the interest of more effective athletic based training. You could say that they both helped me understand the importance of understanding the differences between training athletes versus weightlifters. The work of Charlie Francis has also been something I have modeled much of my programming after; his high/low model and vertical integration model are tools I have used as compasses.5. How do you adapt your programming to fit the needs of each athlete you work with?First, we make sure our programming is as accommodating as possible for the majority of our athletes. We start with the basics and implement more advanced loading over the course of the year, as well as more challenging derivatives of foundational movements. All our teams utilize a supplemental needs based program that is geared towards turning individual weaknesses into strengths. Lastly, we meet and work with athletes who have special cases and might need further individualization and extra measures.6. What do you think is the most overlooked concept in the field of strength and conditioning?I think that conditioning and energy system development is not so much overlooked as it is misunderstood and misguided. As far as an overlooked concept, I think public relations gets neglected a lot. We see great value in getting out and speaking or volunteering, as well as getting involved with other departments on campus.7. What resources do you use the most when it comes to getting continuing education as it pertains to the field?You name it. Today, the ability to consume information is more abundant than ever in history. I read articles/books, watch videos, listen to podcasts, etc. I would say that books and clinics are my most heavily used forms of education.8. What is your take on “specificity” of training and how (if so) do you apply it to your programming?My opinion on “specificity” is that it should be focused on the general qualities of performance. I start by performing an autopsy on the respective sport and work to find parallels in training (i.e., what are the predominant energy systems involved? What types of strength are required? What are the high risk areas for injury?). To me, “specificity” is about answering these types of questions and preparing the athlete’s body to endure and thrive in the particular sport environment it needs to live in. 9. What is your favorite tool in your tool box?My favorite tool is the special needs program and what it has evolved into over the past five years. It has proven instrumental in helping our players both physically and mentally. Physically, they address areas of need, but mentally they end up teaching themselves how to be their own coach. Selfishly, it has also allowed my staff and I to circumvent some of the time constraints we deal with by being able to focus on the top priorities during training sessions and leaving some of the secondary priorities for them to do on their own.10. What are your five favorite exercises?a. Cleanb. Back squatc. Barbell RDLd. Glute-ham raisee. Pull-up11. What advice do you have for young coaches who are beginning their careers and hoping to “follow in your footsteps”?Keep an open mind but seek justification on everything. Do not take things at face value; ask questions and keep asking until you get answers that make sense and are backed up by evidence. Understand that nothing works forever and that there are more shades of grey in performance training than black and white; be ready to keep growing and learning so you can adapt your program. Lastly, “It’s not what you know as a coach that matters ... it’s what you can impart on your athletes that makes a difference.” Make sure you are effectively reaching your athletes and leading them to see value in their training.