Exploring Canadian coaches' experiences with the national coaching certification program's streams and certification structure


In Canada, the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) provides "standardized, inclusive, and safe sport education to coaches and coach developers" across the country (Coaching Association of Canada, n.d.) – ensuring coaches are competent in their roles. While a significant number of coaches pursue NCCP training each year, not all complete the process to become fully certified. In an effort to better understand and facilitate more coaches in becoming certified in their respective sports, the overall purpose of this study was to explore coaches' experiences with the NCCP's coaching streams and certification structure. As part of a larger study involving a survey completed by 169 coaches across Canada, 13 coaches engaged in follow-up focus groups, and seven completed individual interviews, representing 17 different sports, and nine provinces. Focus groups and interviews were conducted virtually over Zoom and recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using Braun and Clarke's (2019) 6-step thematic analysis framework. Results were summarized under three key themes, describing: (a) positive coach perceptions of NCCP streams/certification structure (e.g., The Locker for review of completed courses, availability of remote courses and evaluation, and personnel for NCCP-related support), (b) areas for improvement (e.g., reduce course duplication, improve transition to new system, enhance mentorship, decrease bureaucracy), and (c) barriers to NCCP certification (e.g., expense, perceived lack of value and incentive, quality and availability of facilitators and evaluators, requirements around maintenance of certification). Overall, results indicate both positive and negative perceptions of NCCP streams/certification structure - impacting coaches' intentions to continue their education.