The NCACE Guidelines for Accreditation of Coaching Education are intended to provide direction for administrators, educators, coaches, athletes, and the public regarding the skills and knowledge that coaches should possess and the characteristics that appropriate coaching education programs should have. The coaching standards reflect the fundamental competencies that administrators, athletes, and the public should expect of sport coaches at various levels of experience. Based on unprecedented expansion of information that is available to coaches and it is essential that a high standard of care is taken to ensure the health and safety of all athletes. Coaches, because of their primary roles as teachers and mentors of athletes, must aspire to achieve high standards and require resources to assist them in gaining necessary skills and knowledge to do so. Coaching education programs have the responsibility of ensuring that coaches have the opportunity to develop the appropriate skills, knowledge, and values to function as a coach.
Professional accreditation is the process of verifying that professional preparation is of sufficient quality to ensure that those completing such preparation will engage in safe and appropriate practice. Independent certification programs may verify that participants have completed an identified unit of information or developed specific skills, but the certification does not address the quality or appropriateness of the specified curriculum or preparation. Prospective coaches must seek quality, accredited coaching education programs that enable them to understand hiring practices and to meet appropriate certification requirements related to becoming a qualified coach.
Accreditation of coaching education should:
- Identify levels of coaching education that are acceptable by both a systematic and scientific inquiry as well as identify a national consensus of what coaches should know, value, and be able to do. Accreditation should allow prospective coaches and the public to make decisions concerning the selection of coaching education programs based on an evaluation of educational quality, consistency, and the relationship to the standards for coaches.
- Hold coaching educators accountable for the quality of professional education and ensure that the mechanisms involved in the accreditation process are of appropriate quality. Each step of accreditation should emerge from a consultative process and should result in consensus of the professional participants. Thereby, expertise and experience of the accrediting body will be credible to the general public and the profession of sport coaching.
- Promote coaching education programs that are effective in serving the needs of a dynamic social system and that are creative and responsive to the changing needs of prospective coaches. The diversity of the coaching profession requires that professional preparation also recognize varied philosophies and approaches. Accreditation should not force sponsoring agencies to conform to prescribed, specific patterns unless these conventions have a well-established, scientific and educational basis. Accreditation should differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable forms of professional preparation, but allow for organizational differences and variety in programs, thereby preserving agency diversity and creativity in certifying coaches.
- Be precise in gathering key information about critical aspects of educational quality, both in scope of programs and reliability of judgments and conclusions. There should be a clear difference in programs receiving accreditation and those programs that do not facilitate coaches’ achievement of the National Standards for Sport Coaches (NSSC). NCACE should continually reexamine its policies to ascertain whether high quality coaching education is the actual by-product of the policies and guidelines it advocates.
- Create consistent, efficient, and cost-effective review procedures and processes by which decisions are made and maintain supportive relationships to allow for all levels of coaching education to seek accreditation.
The NCACE Guidelines for Accreditation of Coaching Education and the coaching standards are viewed as part of a dynamic compilation of an education program to develop the knowledge, skills, and values that are associated with the effective and appropriate coaching of athletes. New information will demand that both documents be reviewed and updated periodically. The overriding premise in the development of this document is that its contents be used to ensure preparation of coaches who can in turn ensure the enjoyment, safety, and positive skill development of all athletes.