Photo By: Steven Pisano
If you are looking to improve you knowledge and skills as a coach, or just bolster your resume as you try to break into the field, there are a few good track and field coaching certifications to look into.
The USATF Level 1 is probably the best place to start for a beginner who wants to coach at the high school or collegiate level. It is meant as an introduction to coaching track and field and the only prerequisites are being 18 years old and having a USATF membership.
To achieve this certification, you must attend a school (find one here), which is usually a 2.5 day course, and pass the online exam. Courses are taught by a small group of instructors who are very familiar with the material
According to USATF, the course “prepares an individual to coach at the junior high school, high school, club, and junior age division level”. It covers all of the major track and field events and also has general sports science training information. It is full of information on basic rules, sports science and biomechanics, and progressions for teaching the events.
The USATF Coaching Education Program has many more advanced courses to take once you have achieved your Level 1 cert. You can find more about them here, but the other levels are more advanced and require a certain amount of experience.
For example, the Level 2 certification gets into more advanced training and coaching concepts and allows you to focus on 1 event group – sprints/hurdles/relays, endurance, jumps, throws, combined events, or youth specializaton. It also requires a minimum of 3 years of relevant coaching experience.
The USTFCCCA Academy has a ton of course offerings for track and field coaches. The majority of their courses are in-person at various locations throughout the United States, although they offer their technical certification online.
Their technical certification is a broad course that covers all of the major track and field events and touches on training considerations for each event group.
There are more advanced courses, covering each of the event groups as well as strength and conditioning and program management, and are instructed by groups of high-level coaches.
NFHS, the National Federation of State High School Associations, offers great online courses for all of the major sports. They offer a specific course for coaching track and field.
This is a relatively brief course, compared to those listed above, and can be done entirely online. The instructors are Olympians Dan O’Brien and Hyleas Fountain, who focus on fundamental skills and mechanics.
The NFHS course is a great choice if you work with youth athletes, particularly at the junior high and high school level, and aren’t able to attend one of the other courses for whatever reason. It also has the added bonus of teaching how to work specifically with high school athletes and understand how that works.
If you are interested, you can also take other courses through the NFHS, such as Fundamentals of Coaching and more, to become and Accredited Interscholastic Coach or Certified Interscholastic Coach.
There are not many other track and field coaching certifications, but there certainly other ways to further your education and improve your resume. For instance, a strength and conditioning cert has a lot of information that can be directly applied to track and field athletes and would give you a better idea of how to design and implement training programs.
Any of these programs would be an excellent choice for a new or experienced track coach who wants to know more about the sport as a whole and be able to help their athletes perform at a higher level.