Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Certified Sports Performance Coach


This past January I sat in to become a Certified Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting. USA Weightlifting is the governing body for Olympic sport of Weightlifting in the United States. The Certification is primarily based upon the applications of the Olympic Lifts, the Power Clean and Snatch, to Sports Performance.

I sat through a two day course of hands on coaching. All participants of the course had to actually perform the Olympic Lifts with trainers from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs coaching. The course ended on the 2nd day with a written exam (which I passed).

Going through the training I quickly found out how much I suck at the Olympic Lifts. I originally learned how to perform all the Olympic Lifts from my boss back in
College where I worked as a Fitness Center Supervisor. My boss was a former competitive Powerlifter and set several national records in his day. He was also trained by Mr. Hawaii in strength training and had an extensive knowledge of Powerlifting and Olympic Lifting. Take note; the two sports are in no way similar!

After having been taught by my former boss I thought I would be able to bring some game to this certification program. To my surprise I am like a baby in the sport of weightlifting compared to the coaches and several attendants in the course. I'm not talking about how much weight I could lift I’m talking about pure technique as it's applied to the Olympic Lifts. There were some serious fundamental mistakes I was making on all the lifts. I quickly learned that in my opinion 99% of the strength coaches, football coaches and personal trainers out there have no idea what the hell they are doing when it comes to the Olympic Lifts (power cleans and snatches) and they actually teach most of it incorrectly.

One exercise I am doing now that I never worked on before is the Front Squat. I originally wrote this lift off years ago. I saw it as a useless body building exercise aimed at developing the quads for the purpose of looking pretty. In Olympic Lifting the Front Squat is an extremely important exercise and one of the six fundamental lifts. The Front Squat develops the catch position for the Power Clean. In fact I my wrists are too tight and I need to Front Squat more just to develop the flexibility I need to improve my catch position for the Power Clean.

Overall it was a fun weekend the written exam was very straight forward but still required about an hour of study a night to get through it with a passing score. I now hold a total of 5 Certifications (all current) related to Strength Training and Conditioning (this is not counting my CPR and First Aid which is mandatory to do anything anyways).


I have already registered to sit for my 6th Certification in May. I am going be trying to become a Certified Life Style and Weight Management Consultant through the American Counsel on Exercise. This Certification will basically consist of a two hour proctored exam.

There are some who criticize people who collect Certifications. For the most part Certifications make money for those bodies that create and administer them. In fact I believe they do more for the entities, persons, bodies, corporations or who ever is giving to Certification to make money than they do for the actual personnel becoming Certified.

The big money in creating a Certification is not just in charging for the test, text book and study materials there is also big money in the continuing education, seminars, membership fees, renewal fees and so forth.

In Martial Arts you have guys who will send you DVDs and a Certificate in exchange for sending them money. Other Martial Arts Certifications are semi-legit but overall the only way to know if a Certification is has any credibility is to look at the body administering or backing the Certification. What is the credibility of that body? In addition there are many certifications accredited by the
National Commission for Certifying Agencies. This is supposed to mean when the test is proctored it follows a specific protocol and the Certification meets some type of professional competence. What this actually means is nothing really other than the Certifying body paid some money and went through a bureaucratic process to get their Certification, "Certified."

I realize that holding a Certification in no way guarantees competence in anything and should never replace or supplement actual performance, results and experience. I think it was in the Movie "Tommy Boy" Chris Farley said something like; "You want certified brake pads? Well I can take a crap in a box and stamp it certified for you but all you'll have is a certified box of crap!" Unfortunately most of the world doesn't seem to get this.

I have a friend who has a Bachelors of Science Degree in Exercise Science plus four years in the Coast Guard and all the major fitness clubs in L.A. have turned him down because he doesn't hold a Certification. I don't believe it's because the job market has become so competitive you have to have Certification to get hired but that people have become so brain washed they now think Certifications actually mean something more than you paid some money studied for an exam and passed it.

Personally I just enjoy the process of looking at an exam, studying the material and challenging myself with taking the test. Every time I do it I seem to learn and retain at least a couple more things. But even more improtant I can boost up my ego by putting all my certification on a wall or shrine where I can admire myself everyday as I seek to have the most certifications in the world!

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Hey Sam,
Everyone needs an "I Love Me" room!!! Good job, man. I know that it means something to me that my teacher hasn't reached a plateau and is consistantly trying to better himself. That drive for improvement will filter down to your students as well.