Coaching certification - Frequently asked questions

Why Coach?

Coaching can be a very fulfilling experience and can provide a positive experience for your athletes and yourself.  As a coach you have the ability to have a significant positive impact on your athletes and to contribute to your community. You will have many different roles for different people; teacher, leader, role model, mentor, friend and organizer.

What is the ACA Coaching' Certification Program?

First initiated in 2001 and implemented in 2003, the program has grown to an exceptional training program for cheer & pom coaches. With a strong focus and emphasis on safety and proper skill progressions, coaches learn how to start a cheer program, to set goals with and for their teams, how to coach different types of learners and how to incorporate varying teaching styles to meet each athletes needs.  The program also includes step-by-step skill breakdowns and skill demonstrations.  Coaches are required to complete a written and practical skills test.  To date there are 4 certification levels; Cheer Levels 1, 2 & 3 and Pom & Dance. 

Why am I no longer eligible to get coaching credentials through the USASF?

As of January 2016, the USASF has limited their coaching certification program the all star coaches within the United States. Cheer Canada is currently working in connection with the ICU and IASF to develop a new coaching certification for all star coaches that will be implemented across Canada and internationally. 

How do All Star coaches certify now that the USASF certification is not available in Canada?

All Star coaches are welcome to take the ACA Coaching Certification as the new national All Star certification program is being developed. To know more about which levels to certify at for All Star coaches, please contact

How do I become a certified cheer or dance coach?

The Alberta Cheerleading Association offers certifications in various locations across the province throughout the year, primarily in the Fall and Spring.  Please visit the 'Upcoming Certifications' page for prospective training opportunities, requirements and registration information.

How old do I have to be to become a coach?

The ACA requires that you must be 16 years of age by the certification course/testing date. 

What credentials do I have to hold to be a coach?

ALL supervising/instructing coaches are required to certify up to the level in which they are coaching. Required credentials are dependent on the level and type of team that you plan to coach.  Please review the list(s) of required qualifications here.  For the safety of the athletes and the sport, all coaches MUST hold the correct certification levels for the skills that they are teaching and obtain these certifications before instructing skills to athletes.

How long is my certificate valid for?

Coaching certifications are valid for three years from the date of completion. If you attend a course but fail to submit all necessary documentation, you will not be classed as certified. Once all documentation has been received by the ACA, your certificate will be issued from the date of the practical session and will expire three years after this date.

What skills will I learn and be certified to coach

The ACA Coaching certification program strives to teach a variety of foundational cheerleading elements including stunting, tumbling and jumping skills at each coaching level.  The course also includes a wide range of coaching skills such as how to build a program and tips on how to effectively communicate with athletes. A complete list of the skill covered at each level can be found at the bottom of the coaching certification page.

When and how can I move up to the next certification level?

  • All School cheerleading coaches are required to take the ACA Level 1 Certification program. 
  • Once you have your ACA Level 2 certification, you must accumulate 100 hours at Level 2 to qualify to take your ACA Level 3 certification and submit a signed experience validation form. 
  • In order to verify that you have safely achieved these coaching milestones you will be required to have your teacher advisor, athletic director or a school administrator sign an experience validation form which is submitted to the certification instructor.
  • Coaches are able to challenge the Level 1 Certification to move on to the Level 2 Certfication course at the discretion of ACA Staff/Facilitators, though it is not recommended.
  • Coaches are only able to challenge their Level 2 Certification if they have held a ICU/USASF Coaching Certfication of Level 3 or higher.

How will I know if I passed my certification?

Once you have submitted all of the required documents (proof of valid First Aid/CPR, Respect in Sport, Fundamentals of Coaching, written exam, practical exam and where applicable, Experience Validation Form) you will be informed of your coaching status via email from the ACA Event Coordinator (within 4 weeks of submission/completion of the course). If you have passed, the technical coordinator will email you a certificate of completion for your records. If you are required to re-write your exam, you will be given instructions on how to do so and will be required to pay a $15 re-write fee.

Where can I coach?

The ACA often receives requests for coaches and will advertise coaching opportunities as they arise on the "Coaches Wanted" page of the ACA website.  Be sure to check there often, especially in the fall and spring.

It is important to know that there are numerous opportunities available to coach in Alberta in both the city centres and rural communities.  Many schools (Elementary - High School & Post Secondary) currently have cheer teams and are often looking for new or more cheer or pom coaches. If the school you are interested in does not have a cheer or pom team, please contact them directly to see if they are interested in starting a program. The ACA is happy to provide guidance and assistance to coaches and school administrators in getting a program started. For more information or support please contact

In addition to coaching at schools, there are also a number of all-star programs in the province who also often need more coaches for various ages groups and ability levels. You can view a list of all-star programs and links to their websites by visiting the "Find a Team" page on the ACA site.  Please contact the clubs directly for more information on coaching opportunities and any additional requirements that they may have.