Levelness in Coach Education and Coaching Expertise

Rich Clarke

Coaches at different points of their career and different aspirations often have very different depths of knowledge. It doesn’t mean that practical ALWAYS looks very different, but when complexity comes it looks different if it needs to and more experienced coaches are able to make decisions very differently.

This is/should be reflected in education. Not only by those producing it, but also by the coaches identifying what they want to consume. Here are a couple of examples:

Squat Technique

Basic Level: A squat should have feet just outside shoulder width and with toes turned slightly out. This is fine, it works for most and is the kind of applicable information coaches need early. Think of this as learning a technical model from a book and you’ll find it in most introductory courses and qualifications.

Intermediate: A squat should look like this, but some variation is ok for different types of squats and different people based upon comfort. Everyone has different preferences. This is like the basic level but has a little more nuance to it and understanding. This is likely to be a theme in good academic courses and also in some professional development courses.

Advanced:  Stance width should be adapted to facilitate athlete anatomy/comfort, distribute the stress to the desired tissues while ensuring the principles of a stable base and proximal control/stability of the spine are continually met. This should be (but often isn’t) part of good post-graduate education and isn’t easy to find in professional development.

Academically you could think of this as:

Basic = Level 4 and 5 (first/second year) Undergraduate

Intermediate = Level 6-7 (third year UG and MSc level)

Advanced = MSc/Post grad plus.


If you’re choosing education, you need to think about what level the content is, not just how good the practitioner talking is, as they may simply be recommending you replicate their methods or deliberaely simplifying to capture the masses. You want to be asking the question: what depth of understanding and practice is this going to help me have?

Here are a couple of examples of what to look for....

  • If something is 10 hours long and covers 15 topics, it just isn't possible for their to be any form of substantial depth in each topic
  • If something is describing how you'll 'master' or become 'elite' it is probably trying to persuade less experienced practitioners into things, meaning that is likely where the content is pitched.

This is the foundation of what Strength Coach Curriculums aims to provide. Education that helps practitioners move up in expertise level, have better understanding of principles and more depth in knowledge. It is what most people need to progress but is also the hardest to find.

As you plan your professional development, you need to identify your weakness. Or at least your priority/area of leverage for right now which will allow you to serve your athletes better, help your career progress or make your life easier. This usually means one topic/area and a good focus on it until your confidence changes. Once you tick it off, whats the next area of enhancement? Just like you should do with your athletes!



Rich is the founder of Strength Coach Curriculums and an S&C coach who specialised in multi-directional speed. He runs the S&C provision for Bristol Flyers Basketball and consults with clubs across the globe while also leading the MSc programme at the University of South Wales