Coaching Requirements from USA Hockey Annual Guide

(1) Required Coaching Education Program Levels for Ice Hockey

All coaches must have the required certification level by January 1 of the current season, unless earlier deadlines are established by the district and/or affiliate.

All coaches must complete the online age-specific modules PRIOR to participating with their team.   (ref: Paragraph "b" below)

(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 4. Coaches of only 8 and Under players should remain at Level 1 until such time as they are coaching any older age level of play.

A coach may attend only one (1) certification clinic per year.

Once Level 4 is achieved, coaches will need to complete 5 credit hours of continuing education within each subsequent three-year period [as outlined in Paragraph (c) 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 - 5.   Coaches may complete more than one age-specific module in any given season.

(c) Effective in the 2021-22 season, coaching certification at Levels 4 and 5 is valid for three (3) seasons, as indicated by the expiration date. Before the expiration of their level, coaches must accumulate 5 credit hours of continuing education by either taking Level 5, or by attending other USA Hockey continuing education clinics. The USA Hockey clinic listings will indicate all continuing education offerings and the credit value of each. The Coaching Education Program retains the responsibility for defining continuing education credit values, including clinic or online course work.

(d) Grandfather Clause  

For those coaches who received Level 4 or Level 5 PRIOR TO January 1, 2021, only coaches of Tier I and Tier II teams are required to do continuing education as required in (c) above.

(e) Previous/Expired Certifications

Coaches with any expired certification will retain their previous certification levels provided the certification can be verified.

Coaches may re-enter the certification system at that previous level and be subject to the certification guidelines in (a) through (c) above.

Example: Coaching Progression

Coach Progression Graphic

This example will not apply in all cases, but for a typical youth coach, should be relevant.

Season 1 - Level 1 clinic + age-specific component

Note: If coach continues at (only) 8U age group, no need to move up until he/she coaches an older age...

Season 2 - Level 2 clinic + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level

Season 3 - Level 3 clinic  + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level

Season 4 - Level 4 clinic  + age-specific component if not previously taken for current age level

After Level 4 is attained, coach has 3 years to complete 5 hours of approved training to remain certified.   This can also include achievement of Level 5, which provides the required 5 hours.   After Level 5 is attained, the requirement to update by 5 hours every three years continues.