As the clock struck 12 midnight on December 31, 2011, I completed the last of the six CEUs (Continuing Education Unit) that I needed to keep my NSCA Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist certification current – updating me until December 31, 2014. A few weeks later I got my certificate in the mail – it’s only my iPhone that makes it look pink – it’s actually a nice blue-tinged parchment color.
Here is a description of the educational activities one needs to complete to stay current. Recertification is a bit of a money maker for the NSCA, although it is a non-profit institution. Although one can accumulate a lot of credits by attending NSCA conferences, I used a number of self-directed activities (this blog for example) and online quizzes based on scientific readings. Here is a link to one of the NSCA Hot Topic readings that could qualify you for the next recertification period – .3 CEU for answering a quiz based on this reading – the topic this month is “minimalist footwear”. Other quizzes I took were on the topics of:
- Agility Training for Experienced Athletes
- Skill Based Conditioning
- Core Stability
- The Science & Practice of Periodization
- Medicine Ball Training Implications for Rotational Power Sports (we could include squash in here).
I think the idea of recertifying or being obliged to stay current is a good one – although it is a bit of a hassle. Although I have, and have had, a number of certifications (Squash Canada, U.S. Squash, WPSA, Racquetball Canada, Tennis Canada, Canadian Mental Training Registry) except for the NSCA, only Tennis Canada has a recertification policy in place. One of the difficulties of being a multi-talented coaching consultant is that keeping up with all the professional memberships and professional development can be quite onerous – I finally had to let my Tennis Canada Coach 3 Certification lapse, as I do not actually coach tennis that much any more. In addition to the racquet sport coaching and strength certifications, I am also a member, and so pay dues to the Association of Applied Sport Psychology (a charter member since 1987) and FEPSAC (European Federation of Sport Psychology).
One very useful aspect of the CSCS certification is that it means, unlike other U.S. College Squash Coaches (since I am the only coach who has their CSCS), I can strength train my players when they are out of season – a pretty big advantage. Here is a summary of the current NCAA Division III rule changes that describe this advantage.
The odd thing is of course, is that in the squash world, the public, coaches, Athletic Director’s, and employers pay very little attention to educational credentials and tend to prioritize current playing ability and or in the case of coaches, the ability of their athletes. I am sure John White would not like his coaching to be rated on the ranking of his Drexel University Women’s squash team (his new job), nor would Geoff Hunt appreciate a rating of his coaching based on his current playing ability (let’s be generous and say a “B” level – pretty good for a 65-year old) or the world ranking of his Qatar athletes? Coaches should actually be rated based on logical, scientifically based criteria – which would usually mean a combination of items including observation by trained observers, and some sort of oral or written exams, as well of course as some sort of athlete input – as well as concrete results. One of the purposes of this blog is to encourage people to think a little more deeply about coaching – certainly to look a little beyond the current player rankings.
My two favorite videos related to strength training and squash:) :