What Happens When You Combine A World Class Strength Coach With Some Of The Best College Athletes In The Nation?

   

Olympians. National champions. Conference champions. A lot of them.

Winning is key here at the University of Florida and Strength and Conditioning Coach Matt Delancey is the performance engine that does his part to keep the fans and coaches happy.

In a town where sports come first, Coach Delancey ensures his athletes have the power and speed they need to win on the field (and also at the Rio Olympics, which saw the Gators bring home 13 medals).

Delancey has been with the Gators for 14 seasons and is showing no signs of slowing down. He is currently the Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning for Olympic sports, responsible for swimming, diving, volleyball and track & field. 

I had a chance to sit down with Delancey recently to hear his story in order to help you, the reader, Be Your Best.

Brandon Roberts: How’d you get your foot in the door here at UF?

Matt Delancy: “I sent my resume out to 55 different places. Only 4 wrote me back. The opportunity to come here – I couldn’t turn it down.” So Delancey packed up and moved from the University of Richmond with a couple weeks notice.

What was the hardest part about moving?

Living off my credit cards," says Matt. He goes on to tell me how hard it was in the beginning. Living off $400 a month - which was barely enough to pay rent. That seems to be a common theme among great coaches, persevering through tough times.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

“It’s not so much sets and reps. It’s managing people. Keeping interns on the same page. Everybody thinks they know it. They don’t realize what happens behind the scenes with the coaches, athletic trainers and other staff. We have to keep everyone on the same page.“

Florida has a two-strike process: you get a warning and then you get the boot. It sounds like tough love but when you’re responsible for 185 athletes there’s no time for prima donnas.

He goes on to say “Interns don’t have experience to make decisions. That’s why they’re here. All you have to do is coach. I’ll show you how to cue and you need to learn it.” He’s 100% accurate plus he has the experience to back it up. It takes tons of practice to be able to coach elite athletes.

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Some people don’t realize sport specific training is the most important part of training for an athlete. If your S&C program interferes with some aspect of their sport performance, then you’ll probably have to cut it.

Where do you start your athlete’s workouts?

“I start with an overhead squat. From there we find dysfunction. As we work through the snatch transfer series we work on dysfunction. As we coach them up we make them a better athlete.”

These athletes work up to a snatch then transfer to hang clean. A lot of people forget that the OH squat came from Olympic weightlifting.

Delancey summarizes with, “My strength is identifying and addressing weaknesses. I want to get kids strong but I need to fix dysfunction if they have any.” They start athletes at the ankle, then move up from there. If they don’t understand good foot placement, then it’ll work up through the chain.

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Where do you see S&C field going in the future?

He mentions there’s been a shift towards movement gurus. “We’re not trying to replace a sport coach, that’s not our job. If you get into S&C it takes a long time to develop a good eye.”

When we discussed some of the common problems he says, “The mistake most people make is making their athletes go too heavy. “

One of the other things he discusses is how much he’s learned about programming for athletes in the time he’s been here. It’s important to continually improve as a coach or athlete. Delancey mentions, “If your programming looks the same five years down the line then you haven’t progressed as a coach.”

I think most of us would agree with him.

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Where do you see yourself going from here?

“I could see myself here another 15-20 years. My wife and I love Gainesville.” You can tell that Delancey really cares about his athletes too. They’re like family.

Coach Delancey has developed hundreds of athletes during his tenure at the University of Florida, but one thing he focuses on is improvement.

It could be learning a new corrective exercise to show his athletes, or reading a book to understand training theories.

Here at TrainHeroic, we love that. It’s our goal to help coaches and athletes Be Their Best. Keep it up Coach!

Images from Behance.net and Coach Delancey’s twitter account.

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About The Author

Brandon Roberts is a strength and physique scientist. He has a PhD in muscle biology as well as a Master's in human performance, both from the University of Florida. He works with athletes of all ages and backgrounds using an evidence-based approach.

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