By Mark Allen
The US Squash Coaching Certification Program has undergone a major overhaul. Though previously outlined as a four level system, only the first two levels have been offered since the program started. The Level 1 and Level 2 courses are being changed to have a far greater practical component and to reflect the teaching of the modern game of squash. They are being written with consideration toward coaching in a school/college environment as well as in a commercial club setting. A Level 3 course is in development and will be offered later this fall for the first time ever, and US Squash plans to introduce a Level 4 course within a few years. Details of each level follows.
Level 1—“Assistant Coach” Course
Two Level 1 courses will be held twice per year, one at the start of the season in September, and one at the end in March. The course will be open to 12 participants and will cost $350. The course is 20 hours long. The Level 1 course will focus on a “what is squash” approach to content, the premise being that the Level 1 coach will be working with a Level 2 coach or higher the majority of the time, and that teaching will take place in a group environment.
Level 2—“Coach” Course
One Level 2 course will be held once per year in late April or early May. The course will be open to 16 participants and will cost $500. It will be 24 hours long. At Level 2, the course is aimed to equip the coach to teach any player from the beginner through to 4.5 – 5.0 level, in both group and individual lesson environments. The course will have a very technical focus, and candidates that have completed the course will be able to recognize technical faults in their pupils and know how to break down and explain the technique in order to repair these faults.
Level 3—“Head Coach” Course
There will be one Level 3 course held every two years. The first one is planned for September 2007. The course will be open to 16 participants and will cost $1,000. The course is 24 hours long. The focus at Level 3 will be on technique at higher levels of pressure, movement, and detailed strategy. A qualified Level 3 coach should be comfortable teaching at all levels of club squash up to 6.0, and be capable of leading a club or college squash program. In addition to the three US Squash panel instructors, Damon Leedale-Brown (Physiology) and Tim Bacon (Psychology) will also present in their areas of expertise.
Previously, candidates were required to complete course material after the courses and only upon successful completion of the work did a candidate receive certification. The newly structured courses will require candidates to complete American Sport Education Program (ASEP) web based interactive modules prior to attending the course weekend. These online modules will provide the background knowledge required to get the most out of the weekend course, and ensure classroom time is used most efficiently. Every course will also require candidates to demonstrate the skills needed to teach at that level, and a pass or fail will be given at the end of the weekend.
In order to increase the status of the certification, US Squash will phase in the requirement for the appropriate level certification for coaches employed in all US Squash positions (US Junior Squads, US Junior Teams, National Teams, etc). Certified coaches will be listed on the US Squash website and US Squash will encourage schools, colleges, and clubs to employ coaches that have the appropriate level of certification. Coaching certifications received in other countries will be recognized in the US system provided a certificate or letter from the national governing body is produced as evidence.
While there will be challenges in managing the transition to an improved certification program, the changes will modernize the coaching structure and help ensure that the proper techniques are being taught by US based coaches. If you have any comments for the US Squash Coaching Certification Advisory Panel, please contact Vijay Chitnis at US Squash at 610-667-4006 ext. 16 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The upcoming schedule of US Squash Coaching Certification Courses is as follows:
March 30th to April 1st, 2007: Level 1 @ Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
April 27th to 29th, 2007: Level 2 @ Yale University, New Haven, CT
September 7th to 9th, 2007: Level 1 @ TBD
September 20th to 23rd, 2007: Level 3 @ Reflex Squash Club, Wilmington, DE
The US Squash Coaching Certification Advisory Panel currently consists of Mark Allen, Tim Bacon, Mike Callaway, Robert Graham, Shona Kerr, Jane Parker and Gareth Webber. US Squash would like to thank each of them for their commitment to serving the association and improving this important program.