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Toward a Youth Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certification to Fill the Talent Pool (Defining Quality Instruction) By: Rick Howard, M.Ed, CSCS, *D, USAW

The cornerstone for teaching and coaching youth properly designed, developmentally-appropriate strength and conditioning programming is quality instruction. Quality instruction is referred to in leading position statements and guidelines as a key component to safe and effective youth fitness, sports participation, and strength and conditioning programs. What defines quality instruction?

Top 10 Outcomes for Quality Instruction for Youth to Fill the Talent Pool

  1. Demonstrate a solid understanding of pediatric exercise science concepts and principles
  2.  Integrate factors along the developmental continuum, physically as well as psychosocially
  3. Appreciate the significance of simultaneously developing, refining, and mastering motor skills and muscle strength, as well as other contributory fitness attributes
  4. Recognize the important role of a long-term approach to talent development to fill the talent pool with as many youth as possible
  5. Implement key strategies for safety and practice design efficiency and effectiveness
  6. Apply the concept of periodization to program design
  7. Infuse coaching methods and techniques that use relevant cueing and feedback mechanisms for each level
  8. Use testing and assessment as a snapshot to identify areas in need of improvement and to further develop areas toward mastery
  9. Provide opportunities for preadolescents and adolescents to enjoy a variety of sports, physical activities, and strength and conditioning in a positive nurturing environment
  10. Establish a positive youth-centered shared vision, philosophy and goals for the program and the participants

There is a need for a nationally accredited youth certification. Pre-qualification should include a basic understanding of exercise science, growth and development, and strength and conditioning. Unfortunately, there is no nationally accredited certification available that properly addresses all 10 outcomes.  Steps toward the development of such a credential may include

  • Curriculum development and implementation for undergraduate physical education and exercise science majors
  • Youth-serving organizations that design accredited certifications to unite to provide a recognized, valid, and credible certification that can be the gold standard
  • Professional development and community outreach to educate all stakeholders in youth positive development through physical activity, sport, physical education, and strength and conditioning, including coaches, parents, and community-based youth organizations

Our kids deserve to have knowledgeable, caring, certified coaches and teachers leading them in strength and conditioning exercises and activities. More details on the 10 outcomes for Quality Instruction for youth to fill the talent pool coming soon. Stay tuned!


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