Wrestling is one of the oldest sports at the Olympics and is in need of coaches. This presents a special opportunity for people who want to pass on their knowledge and love of wrestling to future champions. Whether you want to coach in high school, junior high, college or another level, anyone interested in becoming a coach at the regional level and above must go through the National Coaches Education Program (NCEP). Outside of non-competitive high school and college wresting, coaches must be certified by USA Wrestling as it is the governing body for all wrestling in the United States.
Function of the NCEP
The National Coaches Education Program (NCEP) is a series of courses all individuals are required to pass before becoming certified USA Wrestling coaches. Coaches must obtain at least the first of the four levels of certification in order to train wrestlers for any regional, state or national competition, including the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA), which supervises Olympic wrestling.
Copper is the basic certification required of all entry-level wrestling coaches. Usually these are volunteers or parents who want a basic introduction to the techniques of wrestling and coaching. The curriculum consists of three hours of classroom instruction followed by one hour of mat training. The Rookie Coaches Wrestling Guide is used as the course manual; following the clinic, a take-home test is administered. Any individual who passes the course with a score of at least 80 percent will be given the Copper Certificate.
Bronze is the first of the advanced certificates NCEP offers. It is for individuals coaching all age groups from the volunteer to elite international level who wish to be national team coaches. Wrestling techniques, first aid and sports sciences are part of the curriculum. Coaches may skip Copper and go straight to Bronze, although a basic knowledge of coaching and wrestling techniques is valuable. The Bronze curriculum consists of a six-hour clinic followed by self-instruction from the USA Wrestling Coach's Guide to Excellence. This is succeeded by a test which must be passed with a score of 80 percent or higher.
Individuals pursuing Silver Certification must attend a five-day seminar at a NCEP Coaches College. They will learn about research in the field of wrestling and the practical applications of coaching. Only coaches who have completed Bronze Certification can move on to Silver. For a comprehensive overview of requirements for Silver Certification, look at the Resources section of this article.
The highest level of NCEP Certification is given to individuals with at least five years of experience and education in the field of coaching wrestling. Individuals must be Silver Certified before going for Gold. Additionally, coaches who were World tourney competitors in Freestyle or Greco-Roman or top six place winners in World level tourney FILA level A or higher are eligible for the Gold Level Technical Certification in Freestyle or Greco-Roman wrestling. All coaches will attend the World Team training camp and complete the 12 tasks outlined in the overview for Silver Certification requirements.
Coaching Wrestling at Other Levels
Coaches at schools and colleges where competitors wrestle at the amateur level can be self-taught. However, there are still certificates, courses and manuals available to help coaches learn the fundamentals of wrestling. Reputable organizations that offer certificates and courses include the National Wrestling Coaches Association, the American Coaching Academy and Scientific Wrestling.
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