Coaches Requirements / FAQ
All ice hockey coaches as well as instructors of USA Hockey programs shall be registered annually as individual Participants of USA Hockey for the current season (before the start of the season) in order to be eligible to coach/instruct in any regular-season activities (practices, clinics, games, tournaments, try-outs, etc.), state, district, regional playoff, national championships or in the USA Hockey Player Development Programs. There will be an annual fee to register the coaches (head and assistants) and instructors. Coaches who also play on a USA Hockey registered team are required to pay this registration fee only once per year. Coaches may register as participants online at usahockey.com or through a local association/member program (refer to Section I Participant Registration).
Note 1: All USA Hockey Coaching Education Program Instructors and National Player Development Camp coaches will be exempt from the annual participant registration fee, but must complete the participant registration process.
Note 2: The head coach and all assistant coaches of each disabled hockey team must complete the required CEP registration and online age-specific module(s) for each level of play. Those volunteers or employees who assist with helping disabled hockey teams (i.e. interpreters, pushers, on-ice mentors, etc.) must be properly registered with USA Hockey but are not required to attend a CEP clinic and otherwise comply with these rules and regulations.
All ice hockey coaches and instructors of registered USA Hockey Youth 18 & Under and below, high school, girls’/women’s 19 & under and below, and disabled programs must properly wear an approved ice hockey helmet during all on-ice sessions, including practices, controlled scrimmages and all Coaching Education Program clinics and/or workshops.
Coaching Education Program Requirements
(1) Required Coaching Education Program Levels for Ice Hockey
USA Hockey requires that all affiliates and/or districts shall establish the following requirements without modifications for all coaches (head and assistant).
All coaches must have the required certification level by January 1 of the current season.
(a) All coaches must enter USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program at Level 1, and must continue their education with a coaching clinic each year until, at a minimum, they achieve Level 3. EXCEPTION: Coaches of 8U or younger players may remain at Level 1 or their current level. A coach may attend only one (1) certification clinic per year (not including age-specific requirements). Coaches who do not coach in continuous years must re-enter the program at the next level when they resume coaching responsibilities. Once Level 3 is achieved, periodic renewal [as outlined in Paragraph (c) below] is required for coaches who have not achieved Level 4. Coaches of national tournament bound teams (Tier I 14U, 16U and 18/19U and Tier II 16U and 18/19U) must complete Level 4 in their fourth season of coaching. Coaches who attain Level 4 certification are not required to attend any further certification clinics but must adhere to the age-specific requirement as outlined in Paragraph (b) below.
(b) In addition to the training in paragraph (a) above, coaches must also complete online age-specific training modules specific to the level of play they are coaching, if they have not already taken that module. This requirement applies to all coaches at all levels, 1 through 5. Coaches may complete more than one age-specific module in any given season.
(c) Coaching certification at Level 3 is valid for two (2) seasons, as indicated by the expiration date.
A coach whose Level 3 is due to expire must take the online Level 3 Recertification Track 1 curriculum or they may move up to Level 4. Level 3 Track 1 Recertification is valid for two (2) seasons.
A coach whose Track 1 Level 3 recertification is due to expire must take the online Level 3 Recertification Track 2 curriculum or move up to Level 4. Level 3 Track 2 Recertification is valid for two (2) seasons.
Coaches whose Track 2 Level 3 Recertification is due to expire must attend a Level 4 clinic prior to the expiration of their Level 3 Recertification.
Coaches must complete the online recertification program in order to recertify their Level 3 certifications. Attending a clinic or workshop is no longer valid for recertifying any certification level.
(d) Grandfather Clause
For coaches who enrolled in the Coaching Education Program prior to May 1, 2011, their entry into the above program will be at their current certification level. Level 1 and 2 coaches must adhere to paragraphs (a) and (b) above, effective May 1, 2011. Current Level 3 coaches must adhere to paragraph (b) and (c) above; effective with the season their Level 3 expires.
This chart outlines the progression for a new coach. Coaches with pre-existing certifications will enter the new program at their current certification level and must adhere to paragraphs 1. (a) and (b) above.
|Years of Coaching||Certification Requirements|
|Year 1 (ex: 2011-12)||Level 1 clinic + age-specific component|
|Year 2 (ex: 2012-13)||Level 2 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 3 (ex: 2013-14)||Level 3 clinic (expires Dec. 31, 2015) + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 4 (ex: 2014-15)||No Level certification required but can attend a Level 4 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 5 (ex: 2015-16)||Complete the online Level 3 Recertification Track 1 (expires Dec. 31, 2017), or attend a Level 4 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 6 (ex: 2016-17)||No Level certification required but can attend a Level 4 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 7 (ex: 2017-18)||Complete the online Level 3 Recertification Track 2 (expires Dec. 31, 2019), or attend a Level 4 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 8 (ex: 2018-19)||No Level certification required but can attend a Level 4 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 9 (ex: 2019-20)||Must attend a Level 4 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level|
|Year 10 and beyond||No Level recertification required but must complete age specific component if not previously taken for current age level. Coaches are highly encouraged to attend a continuing education course every two years.|
(2) Evidence of Level
All USA Hockey coaches will possess a USA Hockey Coaching Education Program card with valid certification stickers(if certification was received prior to September 1, 2011), or a printout from the USA Hockey online certification list (if certification was received after September 1, 2011).
It is the responsibility of the local association to identify those coaches who do not meet the certification requirements. All coaches have until December 31 of the current season to attend a USA Hockey coaching clinic and complete the online age-specific playing level module to become properly certified.
Prior to the start of all games throughout the season all coaches are required to indicate their current certification status on the scoresheet, regardless of their certification level. All coaches (except for juniors) must legibly print their USA Hockey Coaching Education Program (CEP) card number, their CEP level (levels 1-5), their online age-specific playing level module and the year their CEP level was attained.
Beginning January 1 of the current season, prior to the start of each game, all coaches present are required to sign the designated area of the score sheet in order to verify the accuracy of the playing roster, as it appears on the score sheet, for that game.
(3) Penalty and Enforcement
All coaches must have current certification and online component verification beginning January 1 of the current playing season. Any coach not in possession of these requirements will be ineligible to coach for the remainder of the season. Districts and/or affiliates are required to uphold this penalty. It will be the responsibility of the local association registering the team to enforce the national policy.
(1) Student Coach
A player age 13 through 17 who is currently properly registered with USA Hockey may serve as a Student Coach.
- Must attend a training session conducted by the local hockey association or audit a Level 1 clinic (not required to pay nor will they receive certification credit).
- Must always be under the supervision of a carded, screened adult coach during all practices, clinics, try-outs and in the locker room.
- May help out at practices, clinics, try-outs only. (May not participate as a player in scrimmages or games when acting as a STUDENT COACH).
- May not act as a head coach or an assistant coach during practices or games.
- May be on the bench during games with an adult. The STUDENT COACH will count as one of the maximum of four Team Officials allowed on the bench.
- Must wear a helmet with full face shield, gloves and skates while on the ice. Must wear helmet during games while on the bench.
- May only work with players at least one full playing age level below the STUDENT COACH (e.g., a Bantam age player may act as a STUDENT COACH at the Pee Wee, Squirt or Mite level).
- The organization that is using the STUDENT COACH must provide a form indicating on the team on which he/she is participating as a STUDENT COACH, and, if applicable, what team he/she is properly registered/rostered as a player. A model form is available on the usahockey.com website.
- Upon reaching the age of 18, the STUDENT COACH must comply with the USA Hockey Screening Program and meet the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program requirements which will qualify him/her to act as an assistant or head coach.
All USA Hockey coaches and instructors will comply with the USA Hockey Screening Policy. Failure to comply with the policy will result in the forfeiture of coaching privileges in programs, at sites, or events under USA Hockey’s governance.
Coaching Ethics Code
All USA Hockey ice hockey coaches (head and assistant) and instructors must abide by the USA Hockey Coaching Ethics Code, and understand that violations may result in full or partial forfeiture of coaching privileges in programs, at sites or events under USA Hockey’s governance.
All coaches have an obligation to be familiar with USA Hockey’s Coaching Ethics Code. Lack of awareness or misunderstanding of an ethical standard is not itself a defense to a charge of unethical conduct. The USA Hockey Coaching Ethics Code can be found online at usahockey.com under Coaches.