What it Means To Be A Level 1 Certified Coach with USA Cycling – The Highest Level Possible
I’m so excited to share with you that I’ve received my Level 1 Coaching Certification with USA Cycling! This process has been years in the making, and it has helped me become a much better coach. Clients often ask me, “What do all of those certifications you have actually mean?” “How do people know which certifications are true representations of a coach’s education and experience?” Not all certifications are equal, and that’s true even among the NGBs (National Governing Bodies). However, there are some important criteria that any Expert-level coach in their field should possess in order to be certified to coach, and I’m proud to have achieved them.
With USA Cycling, to achieve a Level 3 designation, one must complete a test which may be taken open book with the USA Cycling rules and Level 1 Coaching Handbook. Additional requirements for all levels are current CPR/First Aid, passing the USOC Safe Sport course, and passing a criminal background check. All certified coaches must complete continuing education each year. In order to attain Level 2 designation, in addition to being a Level 3 coach, attendance is mandatory at a Level 2 clinic. These clinics are excellent and super helpful. Hands-on small group clinics with classroom and on-the-bike skills are combined with group projects. It is here where you start meeting other coaches and learning new tips and tricks and can broaden your knowledge base. In addition, the coaches leading these clinics are passionate and committed with successful businesses. They share their knowledge and further import that there are no secrets in coaching, it’s science and art, and the magic happens in the application. These clinics also bring awareness to the coach about the unique needs of various athletes and while there is definite focus on content of skills and teaching, there are also opportunities for coaches to work on new ways of “how” to coach. Many coaches retake the Level 2 clinic in order to see what’s new out there or to refresh ideas, and attendees continue to rave about clinics.
Level 1 Coaching Certification is similar to being a Cat 1 cyclist. In fact, USA Cycling copied the cycling classification system with higher numbers for new and less experienced riders, to apply to coaches, which is why Level 1 is the highest. In order to become a Level 1 Coach, you must have attained Level 2 status and held it for 5 years, or for 3 years but attend 200 hours of continuing education, attend the Level 1 clinic (held every 2 years and limited to 20 attendees), pass an extensive exam and then submit a comprehensive final project. It’s a process for those that love to learn, that want to perfect their craft, and to collaborate with other coaches. Ironically becoming a Level 1 coach isn’t about what you know, but rather, the appropriate application of what you know and how you do so. The course was all interactive and collaborative, and it stretched attendees to get comfortable with other coaches methods and methodologies. Some coaches believe in only one way, and the reality is that there is more than one right “way” to coach an athlete. Respect for our fellow coaches and an emphasis on building a Community of Practice was a recurring theme.
To say I learned and grew from the experience is an understatement. From this course I was guided to attend the Coach Developer Academy with the United States Coaching Center for Excellence in Orlando, and am pleased to have successfully come out of that course recognized as an excellent coach, coach educator, and communicator by international master coaches. It’s all a continuum to be better coaches, so that we can continue to enable other athletes and coaches to be better too. That’s USAC Level 1!
Thanks to everyone reading this right now, I couldn’t have done it without you!