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USSA Launches Level 100 XC Coaches Certification

Fri, Apr  3, 2009 - By USSA

PARK CITY, UT (April 2) - The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) has launched a cross country coaches level 100 certification program, the first level of a multi-level cross country-specific coaches education certification system. The curriculum is based on up-to-date practices used by the U.S. Ski Team in the quest for Olympic medals. The course material comes directly from the Team's coaches and several of their key partners. The rollout of the certification system will occur throughout the next several seasons, and once completely launched, course content will continue to evolve with the sport.

The certification is based on a curriculum of cutting edge coaching techniques, which are used by the U.S. Ski Team in its coaching of athletes like World Championship silver medalist Kikkan Randall (Anchorage) and World Cup podium performer Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT).

"This cross country-specific coaches education certification system is a major step forward in our development as a skiing nation. Level 100 coaches will be better suited to provide the training environment that will maximize an athlete's talent, allowing them to advance to the next stage of the pipeline," U.S. Cross Country Coach Matt Whitcomb said. "Ultimately, the U.S. Ski Team is only as successful as the clubs that are developing athletes from early on, and thus wide spread buy-in to this program is important to the goal of winning Olympic medals."

Level 200 coaches certification will be launched in the Spring of 2010, and level 300 in the Spring of 2011.

From the USSA web site  (click here and select the cross country tab):

Getting Started
To become Level 100 certified, simply purchase the Level 100 online test for $110 (or $60 for NENSA Level 1 coaches). The course manual and Microsoft Excel training planning document will be emailed to you within 48 hours. The test is available at: > Store > Education Shop > Online Courses and Testing

The 2009 clinic schedule will begin with the Regional Elite Group camps throughout the U.S. If you’ve participated in a U.S. Ski Team clinic within the past two years of applying for your Level 100 certification, this category is satisfied.

To get started, complete a basic coaching principles certification (National Federation of State High School Associations—, American Sport Education Program—, or other by request). A proof must be sent to USSA Sport Education, along with a current proof of first aid/CPR certification.

To maintain a current status with Level 100, a coach must provide the USSA with proof of continuing education every two years. This can be in the form of taking another course, technique clinic, education conference, etc. To be certified, a coach must hold a valid USSA coaching license. The certification level will be indicated on the membership card.

Why Do We Need a Sport-Specific Education System?
The U.S. Ski Team wants to win Olympic medals and recognizes the critical role of educated coaches in this goal. Until now, cross country has not required sport-specific education to become a high-level ski coach. This causes programs to inefficiently pour time and resources into the development of their own coaches, athletes, and overall program success. The USSA education certification program will assist clubs in the development of their own coaches and will do so consistently with the current practices and educational standards of the U.S. Ski Team. 

The U.S. Ski Team will begin to require Level 100 certification for the winter of 2009-10 on the resume for coaches to attend World Juniors / U23 and J1 Scandinavian Championships. Ultimately, the goal is for regions, clubs, teams and employers of public and private high schools to require certification for employment. An educated coach is a better coach, and coaches who are participating in a curriculum based on the best practices from throughout the sport science world will ensure that the U.S. Ski Team reaches the goal of winning at all levels.

The U.S. Ski Team will use a PDF format for the manual, thereby allowing staff to efficiently update the manual with the latest knowledge and theory. Level 100 certified coaches will receive the updated manual when changes are made. 

For questions and feedback →  Matt Whitcomb,
USSA XC Sport Education Coordinator →  Chelsea Steinbach,