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Thread: How to Become a Starting Strength Coach

  1. #1
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    Default How to Become a Starting Strength Coach

    This post is intended for those who are interested in attending a Starting Strength Seminar and earning a Starting Strength Coaching certificate. While the seminars are not only intended for those who want to be coaches, many people indicate a desire to earn the credential and then are disappointed when they are unable to do so. Below are some recommended preparations to maximize your chances of becoming a SSC. Be sure that you read the information presented on this website to start you off:

    http://aasgaardco.com/store/seminar-course

    Buy and read the Third Edition of Starting Strength. Make sure it is the Third Edition. Then read it again. Don’t skim the book. Set aside some quiet time and read it in its entirety. You do not want to be introduced to the concepts that underlie this teaching method for the first time at the seminar.

    Buy and read the Third Edition of Practical Programming. Then read it again. Starting Strength and Practical Programming are the text books for the seminar. Familiarity with the concepts in them is a prerequisite if you wish to earn the certificate.

    Start lifting in the way laid out in the books. Get stronger. Put on muscular bodyweight. Understand what makes this stuff work by trying it out in your own training. If things start to hurt, figure out why and correct the issues. Experience the physical and psychological challenge of squatting a progressively heavier bar each workout. Go all the way through the novice linear progression yourself. If you can't do this as a lifter, your opinion about training will be of little value as a coach. If you wish to coach others, you need to understand what they are going through to be more effective. Get a pair of weightlifting shoes, train with them, and bring them to the seminar.

    Watch others lift and try to determine what they are doing well and what they are not. Figure out how you would cue them to improve what they are doing. Lots of videos get posted to this site asking for form advice. Watch them. Read how others respond. Sort the wheat from the chaff in the commentary that follows. If you can, take video of your own lifts and figure out how to cue yourself.

    As you succeed in making progress on your own lifts, others might ask for advice or coaching. Work with them. Learn how to succinctly cue a lifter in real time while they are under the bar. The more experience you have watching lots of different lifters and cueing them, the better off you will be.

    When you are at the seminar, you will be evaluated on your ability to coach other trainees. If you don’t coach them, or show an inability to coach them, you will not be given the chance to take the written test. The platform staff are doing two things -providing instruction and identifying good coaches. People do not become coaches in two and a half days. You can learn about coaching and gain some practice, but effective coaching requires experience. Those that walk in the door with the skills, presence, and background generally stand out early and they are the ones who go on to take the written exam.

    The written exam is challenging. It requires a good deal of time and effort to complete and requires a thorough grasp on the material and an ability to write about it. Sorry, there are no multiple choice questions here. We have quite a few people pass the platform evaluations only to fail the exam. Get to work on the test as soon as you get it.

    The Starting Strength website has a variety of resources on it including articles, videos, Starting Strength Camps, and, of course, the forum. Dive into those things and assimilate those ideas into your training.

    Earning a Starting Strength Coaching certificate means that on the weekend you took the seminar, you knew your stuff. The SSC is intended to be a professional credential that indicates to the public your competence in these methods.
    Last edited by Tom Campitelli; 01-23-2014 at 02:49 PM.

  2. #2
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    Great info. I'd love to see some Starting Strength coaches pop up in western Canada. My technical knowledge and coaching skills aren't on par of a coaching certificate, but it would be nice to attend a training camp somewhere that wasn't a 20+ hour drive away.

  3. #3
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    Excellent post Tom. Had it existed before I went, I would have followed the advice and gone a year later instead! I think the point about going entirely through the linear progression on the lifts is possibly the best one, as the rest is simply a clearer restatement of things posted elsewhere.

    To be clear, you are evaluated on your ability to coach the five lifts exactly as taught by the Starting Strength method. You could for example be an excellent running coach, or excellent Olympic weightlifting coach, and while these skills would have great carryover to coaching the SS method, you are evaluated on your ability to coach exactly that method. That's why it's the "Starting Strength Coaching" certification, not the "powerlifting plus a couple of other lifts" certification or whatever.

  4. #4
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    Default Further to Tom's points above . . .

    I have some additional recommendations that I pointed out in the E&P thread that I'll add here. One commentor pointed out that these were probably more for the test than the platform portion on the weekend. Fair enough. But if you pass the platformg portion on the weekend, you're not going to have time to learn all of this in time for the test, so you need to know it before the seminar. Besides, if you're going to be professionally coaching human movement, even absent the SS:BBT coach's certificate, you really need to know this, IMO:

    You need to have a very good understanding of basic anatomy, esp. musculo-skeletal anatomy, as well as how the nervous system works, how a basic muscle cell functions, and all the concomitant terminology that goes along with the discussion of human body and movement thereof (Medial / Lateral, Anterior / Posterior, Proximal / Distal, Superior / Inferior, etc, etc). A illustrated anatomy book such as Netter (Atlas of Human Anatomy) is helpful. Then you have to understand how the musculo-skeletal system functions, which requires some basic mechanics. So if you don't understand the three classes of levers, you may wish to brush up on all that High School physics / mechanics stuff you have forgotten.

    As Tom says, and on top of that, you should be actively coaching, and coaching a lot. I repeat this even though Tom said the same thing because it cannot be overemphasized. Even if you're teaching different things, the "coaching eye" as stef likes to call it, or the OODA loop as I learned it, is, like anything, a skill that develops with practice. The people who most often pass the platform are those who, surprise surprise, spend a lot of time coaching human movement in some form or another, and who have done so for some time.

  5. #5

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    Once you attain the certificate, is there any upkeep that needs to happen to keep the designation? Annual credits? Re exam etc.

  6. #6
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    Default Traveling From Another Country

    Hi, I am currently live in Russia, I want to come to the US just to attend the SSS and then become SSC, any advice other than mentioned above?
    like should i come few weeks earlier and workout and practice at Wichita Falls? can i attend the SSS and take the exam a week later so i could practice there?
    Thanks)

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLB105 View Post
    Once you attain the certificate, is there any upkeep that needs to happen to keep the designation? Annual credits? Re exam etc.
    Yes. You become a memeber of the Starting Strength Coaches Association, which has Maintennace of Certification requirements such as frequently auditing the seminar to be exposed to changes made in the material, and well as a minimum number of documented coaching hours each year, and other miscellaneous requirements. You can read about it on StartingStrength.org

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Muhannad View Post
    Hi, I am currently live in Russia, I want to come to the US just to attend the SSS and then become SSC, any advice other than mentioned above?
    like should i come few weeks earlier and workout and practice at Wichita Falls? can i attend the SSS and take the exam a week later so i could practice there?
    Thanks)
    I think you're misunderstanding the basic nature of the seminar and how it functions to test SSC candidates. First: coming to Wichita Falls to "practice". Practice what? You're not an SSC. You wouldn't be allowed to coach there. And you should already have been coaching enough that you do not need to. You could possibly lift and be coached (there are active SSCs in the facility, after all, and it is a gym) but you should also have your own lifting pretty well nailed down.

    The sad fact it that most people overestimate their ability to coach the material. SSC candidates must "opt-in" at the start of the seminar. Once they do, the seminar becomes a weekend-long test of your knowledge of and ability to coach the material. In my recent experience, we've done a pretty decent job of convincing folks who have no business taking the seminar as an attempt that the SSC from doing so, meaning that the candidates who DO opt in have convinced themselves that they are ready to undertake the seminar as an evaluation of them. Even of this fairly determined group of people, only about, and again this is my observation based on the seminars I've staffed recently, only about 30-40% pass the platform, if that many.

    And then you have to pass the written exam, and have one week to do so from the time it is e-mailed to you. Successfully completed exams are in the multiple tens of pages long. Think 30-ish (ballpark) depending on how well and concisely you write. After the exams are evaluated, there are about 8-12% of candidates who successfully complete.

    The amount of knowledge and experiance required to do this means that coming early isn't going to help. And can't - we don't train you to be a coach, we identify you as one.

  9. #9
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    Hi Steve, thanks for replying

    No, i think i understood well Steve, by coming earlier, what i meant is to come to the gym as a client, before the seminar starts, therefore coaches there will show me my mistakes and correct them, so at least i could pass the platform.
    And as for the written exam, what if i passed the platform but not the written exam? will i have to attend the seminar again before taking the written exam once again? Or you will just send me another exam later by email?
    I just don't want to come to the US 3-4 times just to take the exam, that will be fairly expensive)

    Also, I'm currently attending a fitness trainer certificate course here in Moscow so i will be practicing "coaching", but i really, really don't like this course and it makes no sense to me, they should just rename it to " how to make the client comfortible so he/she will come back again".

    P.S. i will be working on my writting skills in English too).

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