I want to start with stating that I studied for 3 years to achieve my BSc in sport science and physiology, 3 years part-time to achieve my MSc in strength and conditioning and committed plenty of time to gaining my UKSCA accreditation; this may mean I have a slightly biased opinion but I will offer it anyway. I recently stumbled upon the 1st4sport levels 1-3 certificates for strength and conditioning which will ‘qualify you to coach the skills and techniques of strength and conditioning, as identified in the Practical Syllabus. This includes the use of free weights to develop sports performance’ that is delivered in association with the RFU.
I welcome the education of coaches to the benefits of strength and conditioning and the growth of the profession within the UK and I think that this qualification will achieve both of these. I also acknowledge that by putting forward an individual to such a course may represent a more viable option than paying for a specific S+C coach for a club or team. The main difficulty I have is that the UKSCA accreditation is still young, as is the industry itself and that teams, clubs and individuals may have difficulty in distinguishing between an accredited coach and a 1st4sport coach, which may mean that coaches then need both qualifications to ensure recognition. This qualification has been introduced by the RFU and that there is another delivered by the FA….will all sports need you to have a qualification from their governing body and will sports then prioritise their certificate as a requirement for employment? Finally I massively advocate the scientific approach to the field and believe that such a background better equips a practitioner for program design. I am not underestimating the need to be an excellent coach and to communicate effectively with athletes and other coaches, what I don’t want to see is the industry becoming watered down by qualifications you almost have to attend just to gain.
My personal view is that, and I reiterate that it may be because it’s the educational route I chose, coaches should be confident that the accreditation and eventually the master practitioner awards are the ones necessary for recognition within the UK. I think work needs to be done to ensure that this is and remains true.