Mapping a Young Coach’s Education
First, take ASCA Level 1 – The Foundations of Coaching (or USA Swimming’s Foundations of Coaching test). It is about the philosophy of our sport and its coaching. It is, indeed, its title, the foundations of coaching. Included are starter materials on teaching strokes, training athletes, working with parents, etc. It’s Coaching 101. It makes you competent to step on-deck and assist swimmers and other coaches. It’s minimal, it’s the start. Take the test online and its reported to USA Swimming, for your coaching membership there, and to ASCA, to start your Certification process. You need to also complete a Certification Application to activate the ASCA certification process.
Second, take ASCA Level 2 – The Stroke School. This course is designed to make you aware of world-class strokes today, and more importantly teach you to construct strokes in practice. That’s the primary thing that parents bring their children to you to learn: how to swim better. This is the beginning of your education about strokes. ASCA provides Advanced Courses in each stroke, both live and in manuals.
Third comes ASCA Level 3 – The Physiology School. This is all about the planning and execution of training for athletes of all ages, from 8 and unders to the elite. Along the way, you are "reminded" of some basic science. Once you can teach strokes and understand the philosophy of our sport, it’s time to have a coherent training plan for your athletes of every age. Long-term development of athletes is key to good coaching.
Fourth, the Leadership School. This teaches you how you become a leader and what to do with it once you have that remarkable ability. You lead your group, you may lead your team, you may lead your parents, you may contribute leadership to your LSC or high school association. It’s swimming specific and a great way to focus on your daily tasks.
Fifth, we recommend you take the Administration School (Level 5), which teaches you ways to conduct and run your program. Don’t reinvent the wheel: swim teams have been in operation for many years. Lots of good ways to do things have already been found and documented. Rather than trial and error, learn from past good ideas to operate your program. Whether you are an assistant coach or a head coach, this is important information. Special sections on high school and college teams.
Once you’ve done the basic 5 certification courses, ASCA has 23 “Enrichment Courses” that cover many facets of coaching in an advanced and specific manner. Take them in any order you wish, as your interests dictate…much like when you were in college. We add an average of 1.5 courses a year.
Somewhere in there, along the way, get a mentor. Nothing is a better coaching education. All it takes is the simple question “Can I ask you some questions?” to a coach you admire and respect. That takes some courage, but take heart: I’ve never heard of anyone rejecting anyone in our profession. Suck it up, ask someone for help. And when they help you, ask the next question…”Can I stay in contact with you so I can learn some more?”
Do you have to take the courses in that order? No. Do we encourage it? Yes. They are specifically ordered to provide an orderly progression of basic information for the framework of your coaching career.
One final note: How you take the course matters.
Young coaches often don’t get "respect" from parents, and they ask me how to sell "their" ideas. You can’t. You’re too young for a parent ten years older than you to listen to you. But you can sell "expert power". Expert power is what an experienced coach who is not you says. You can pull out an article from David Salo on breaststroke, or Jon Urbanchek on middle distance training, or Ira Klein on age group progressions, and they have "instant credibility" with your parents (if you educate your parents on who those coaches are). You use "expert power" rather than "in my opinion". Parents aren’t interested in the opinions of young coaches very much, are they? With expert power in your corner, you’re ready to meet those challenges. And every coach in history before you, who succeeded, used expert power before you. We all do. Help yourself.
Coming soon….ASCA Level 2 School will be available “on line” with lots of video.
All the Best,
There are three things analyzed in the Certification process. They are: Education, Experience and Achievement. Your Certification shows that you have met the required standard at each Level. The Five Levels become increasingly more difficult. Level 5 is composed of the top 2-5% of coaches in the USA. Level 4 is the top 5-8% and Level 3 is the upper 15% of coaches. Level 2 requires more units of education and experience than Level 1.
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