Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My USA Track and Field Level 1 Coach Certification Experience

I'm Officially a USA Track and Field Certified Level 1 Coach!
Here is my USA Track and Field (USATF) Level 1 Coach Certification Experience

Short Story
It was an excellent course! Great information!

The Long Story
Who What When and Where
USA Track & Field
18-19 February, 2012
Hosted by

 Why Would a Personal Trainer who has no desire to be a Track and Field Coach take such a course?

As a fitness professional, I believe it’s my duty to continually educate myself in order to serve the needs of the clients that seek my service. Plus, I just love learning!
I registered for the USA Track and Field (USATF) Level 1 Track and Field Coach Certification Course in order to get a better understanding of the runners that have come to me with injuries due to over-training, lack of knowledge or respect for recovery time, and improper cross-training practices in relation to their training goals, personal demands, and physical limitations.
I am now certain, the "coaches" who have been “coaching” the injured athletes who have sought my services, do not hold a USAFT Coaching Certification.
USATF is focused on considerate and appropriate periodization and progression, and recovery practices that I completely support.
When I've asked to see the training plans of the injured runners' who have come to me for post-rehab personal training, I have always been shocked. The training plans the athletes were following, prior to their injuries, gave little to no consideration to realistic scheduling of workouts for the average person who may have a family, a career, social obligations, and other interests.
Rarely did I see even one day scheduled for rest and recovery practices, and very little focus on cross training; and if cross training was suggested, it was usually inappropriate/uncomplimentary to the goal the training was hoping to achieve.
It’s been interesting when a “coach” has said to me “well, of course these guys will get injured, it’s not like they’re athletes.”
Excuse me!?! Then why would you give an over 35 year old man, who works 60+ hours a week, 3 kids, a wife, a dog, and other obligations, an unrealistic training plan that looks as if it was designed for an under 25 year old elite athlete on the fast track to an injury?!
I have no desire to be a Track and Field Coach, even though I am an excellent motivator. However, I gained a new perspective and a renewed respect for my style of Personal Training thanks to this course.
I am a coach! A fitness coach!
A personal trainer of my caliber has to be a coach! 
I am passionate about helping my clients achieve their goals and I will do whatever it takes to motivate my clients to be as dedicated, passionate, and committed to their progress as I am.
Along with motivating my clients, it is my responsibility to help each client attain and maintain a healthy, balanced, and functional body that will remain injury free.
Completing the course provided helpful information which supports my training philosophy and program design. The course contained plenty of information that was beneficial in helping me to better understand and communicate with coaches, along with providing added confidence and credibility when contesting athlete’s training programs in order to help prevent future injury.

Course Structure and Information

The information provided in the course was delivered over two, 12 hour days.
Yes, very long days.
Luckily, I had the pleasure of attending a course which included some outstanding coaches/presenters:
These gentlemen are some of the most highly experienced track and field coaches who not only have a ton of knowledge and experience, they have the passion to share their love of coaching with others.
Each coach managed to keep the class interested and engaged while they delivered the information professionally without being stuffy…at times, they were quite entertaining.
The course information, while focusing on youth/jr high/high school track and field events, is appropriate for any coach regardless of the age of the athletes with whom they work.
Basic physiology, sports science, biomechanics, and nutrition are also included along with coaching protocol, techniques, training, rules and regulations of individual track and field events.
The highlight for me came on the 2nd day when we got to hit the track and participate in some basic drills and work on techniques for different events such as sprinting, shot put, high jump, and racewalking.
I must confess, I am now super-excited about racewalking! I can’t help it, I rock the fast walk! I also realized I have a secret obsession with the shot put and discus! There is so much technique and rhythm that I was not aware of until I took the course. Who knew such finesse was required for a sport that looks like huge people chuking things through the air. This former professional dancer bows down to the athletes who dance the crazy dances of shot put and discus!
The Online Exam
Though the test contains 200 questions, one should not be intimidated.  The exam is open book, done online, and can be completed at your leisure over the course of 3 months. The course workbook, and hand outs that are provided with the course will help you answer all the questions.
I am thrilled to report that I scored 96% on the test, which I took on the first day it became available and completed in one sitting. I am certain I would have gotten 100% had I not had to use the restroom for the last 85 questions…I was at a public library and didn’t want to leave my computer unattended. : )

I’m happy to say the 2 day time commitment, and the $125-$150 financial investment in the course was worth it. I came away from the course with plenty of helpful information and a renewed respect for what I provide as a personal trainer who specializes in helping runners avoid injury.
Whether you’re a seasoned track and field coach who has yet to take a USATF Coaching Certification, or you’re a fitness professional working with any level of walkers and runners, I would encourage you to invest your time in obtaining all the useful information provided within the Level 1 Course.
I now know I can confidently refer clients to coaches who hold at least a Level 1 USATF Coaching Certification. Completing the course gives me peace of mind to know that if I referred a USATF Certified Coach to one of my clients, the coach would be more likely to be on the same page as I am in respect to recovery and cross-training practices.