Certification and Testing
USSA alpine coaches education is delivered through a five level certification program for coaches. The primary purpose for coaching certification is to work stepwise through an educational program that will progressively build on the coach's prior knowledge and experience. As in developing skills in skiing, the process for becoming a better coach starts with foundational skills and moves forward into a deeper and broader understanding of all the aspects involved in alpine ski racing and coaching. Coaching education and experience go hand-in-hand. To be a great coach, one must have both. All coaches, whether working with young athletes just starting into a race program, or working with elite athletes moving onto the national teams and collegiate programs, fit within the USSA certification program.
Read below for information on each certification level.
Level 100 Certification
The first step in the education for any coach of alpine skiing, the Level 100 coach acquires knowledge in the fundamentals of alpine skiing and learns how to teach these skills in appropriate progressions. The Level 100 coach also will have training in First Aid and CPR.
It is recommended that an alpine ski coach pursue their Level 100 certification prior to or within their first year of coaching. The content and skills acquired during the Level 100 are a necessary foundation for a ski coach of any level of experience. USSA recommends that all ski coaches work to obtain Level 100 certification, whether working part-time with young introductory level racers or full-time with racers at the top levels nationally.
Level 100 certification requirements:
Upon completion of these requirements, a coach will be recognized as a USSA Level 100 coach. As sport is continually evolving, certified coaches must complete continuing education activities every two years. Click here for information on continuing education credits.
All Level 100 Certified coaches will be required to maintain up-to-date CPR and First Aid certifications in order to remain current. Coaches may obtain their CPR and First Aid certifications from any recognized organization such as the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association. ASEP offers an excellent on-line Sport First Aid course geared toward coaches for the First Aid requirement (still have to do CPR separately).
All coaches must have a current USSA coaching membership. If coaches let their membership lapse, their status will become "inactive". They will not lose their certification status; however, they will be considered an "inactive coach" and their certification level will not be recognized until they renew their membership. Certification status will not be current if coaches do not fulfill the continuing education credit requirement or if they allow their CPR and First Aid certifications to expire. Once membership is renewed and all necessary continuing education credits have been completed the coach will regain their "current" status and their previous certification level will be recognized.
Level 200 Certification
The Level 200 curriculum builds on the alpine ski fundamentals in Level 100 to give the coach a thorough understanding of technique and tactics and how to effectively teach fundamental skiing. Race day planning and strategies are also discussed. Together with the supporting courses in coaching principles and sport science, the Level 200 coach has the knowledge to work in most club coaching positions. It is recommended that coaches seeking or currently in full-time coaching positions complete their Level 200 requirements during their second year coaching. Weekend and part-time or volunteer coaches are encouraged to complete their Level 200 training within two to four years of starting coaching.
Candidates for the Level 200 on-snow clinic must either take the Introduction to Course Setting clinic, or submit a course setting recommendation from a Level 300 certified coach or Level 2 or higher Referee or Chief of Race, prior to registering for the Level 200 clinic.
All coaches beginning the Level 200 certification process will need to successfully complete the following requirements in order to be a Certified Level 200 Coach:
All new and current coaches who have achieved their Level 200 Coach Certification will be required to complete a continuing education credit every 2 years. They also need to keep their First Aid and CPR certification and referee status current.
Level 300 Certification
The Level 300 coach is a committed professional ski coach, working with performance track athletes of any age. The Level 300 curriculum provides an in-depth study of each racing discipline, along with a broader background in sport science and pedagogy expected of a high level coach. The Level 300 coach is a leader in the coaching profession and is one who daily makes significant contribution to the development of alpine racers at all levels.
All candidates must either be a certified Level 200 coach or a certified Regional or higher coach under the "old" system.
There are nine USSA Educational requirements, including one USSA Alpine Officials requirement, for Level 300 certification. The requirements are:
Each spring an Alpine National Coaches Academy is held where the content in points 1-3 above will be covered at one time and place.
*Attendees of the 2010 or 2011 Fall National Coaches Academy received credit for one of these courses. Choose 3 of the 4 for certification. Taking the fourth course is recommended as a continuing education activity.
Level 400 and 500 Certification
The Level 400 coach is the highest domestic coaching designation. Level 400 certification is designed for coaches who are head coaches in programs, who lead divisional, regional and national development projects, and who are active in elevating the level of ski racing in the United States. The curriculum and requirements for the Level 400 coach are under development by USSA, and will require a high level of coaching experience and performance as a coach.
The Level 500 coach designation is for a coach who has worked through the full USSA education program, and additionally has been on the U.S. Ski Team coaching staff for a full season or longer.
Several of the steps in the certification process include an on-line exam. Coaches who take an on-snow clinic will receive a code to purchase the corresponding exam at no cost, if taken within a year of the clinic. Coaches who are taking exams to finish other requirements for certification will need to purchase the exams and corresponding learning resources. These can be ordered at the USSA Education Shop here.