IAAF Changes from 5 Levels of Coaching to 3

Last Updated on August 15, 2023 by Andrew Pirie

IAAF Changes

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IAAF Changes CECS from 5 Levels to 3

The IAAF system has changed its CECS System from 5 Levels of Coaching to 3.

Starting in 2018, the operation of CECS will be coordinated by the six area associations.

With their respective IAAF Regional Development Centre(s) (RDCs) under the IAAF Development Department’s supervision.

The new three-level CECS structure has been created to address the following areas

(see ‘Fig.1’ pdf and ‘Fig 2’ pdf).

Please note that individuals interested in attending a CECS Level I (U16) and CECS Level II (U20) course should directly contact their national federation. Level III (Senior) courses are normally staged at the (mobile) RDCs and are designed for a smaller number of coaches who will have special duties within their federation.

On top of the three-level. CECS is the IAAF Academy program that is organized in cooperation with sports universities. For further details of the three CECS levels of award, see ‘Table 1’ pdf.



With the new CECS Level I (U16) introduction, which follows the IAAF Kids’ Athletics (U12).

There is the opportunity to emphasize and develop the educational aspects of teens/youth athletics’ effective work with youth and beginner athletes.

The new Level I will produce qualified youth coaches who will be able to train and prepare teens providing the “bridge” from IAAF Kids’ Athletics (U12) FUNdamentals (Run, Jump, Throw [RJT]) to ‘real’ athletics.

Youth coaches will be competent and able to take the kids through the youth programs of training and competition relevant to teens’ athletics (13-15 years of age).

The Level I syllabus covers all event groups and emphasizes the practical skills of coaching.

At the same time, the Level I course provides a theoretical base that is sufficient to allow coaches to continue learning, either through their efforts or within the structure of the CECS. 

To make the most efficient use of resources and ensure the optimum application and activity, Level I courses will be conducted at locations in the countries of Member Federations, using IAAF-accredited Level I Lecturers and standardized course materials.

The course structure and timetable for Level I courses are flexible (provided certain specified requirements are met) to adapt to local conditions. The norm will be for a 12-day residential course. A 10-day residential course with blended learning (ELearning) is in production.


The Level II course is designed to be an introduction to performance coaching for coaches who have performed well at Level I and have gained a level of coaching specialization in one of the following five-event groups:

· Sprints and hurdles
· Middle/long-distance running & race walks
· Jumps
· Throws
· Combined events


With this specialization, they can begin to meet their country’s need for high-level coaches

It is anticipated that the majority of Level II participants will continue to Level III. In addition to elements specific to the events group, the Level II syllabus contains core elements common to all events.

Upon completing a Level II course, a coach will be expected to identify and coach the basic competition model for each event within an event group.

The coach will also be expected to be able to plan and implement a series of appropriate micro-cycles. And their respective training sessions within the context of an annual training plan. 

To make the most efficient use of resources and ensure the optimum application and activity.

Level II courses will be conducted at locations in the countries of Member Federations. Using IAAF-accredited Level II Lecturers and standardized new course materials (E-book; Interactive “Coaches’ Eye”).

The course structure and timetable for Level II courses are flexible (provided certain specified requirements are met) to adapt to local conditions.

The norm will be for an eight-day residential course. A seven-day residential course with blended learning (ELearning) is in production.

Entry to Level II is open to coaches who pass the Level I assessment procedures, have completed a minimum of one further year of practical coaching experience, and have been recommended by their national federation. 



The Level III course builds on the experiences of Level II. It can be thought of as developing performance coaching, providing coaches with advanced-level instruction in their chosen event group.

As with Level II, the Level III syllabus includes event-specific elements, but more of the common core elements are now studied with a specific application to the event group context.

Upon completing the Level III course, coaches will be able to identify and coach high-level and advanced competition models for their specific events or events.

They will also be expected to plan and implement meso & macro-cycles of training for high-level athletes within the context of a multi-year plan.

These plans should lead to the achievement of potential, elite performance, and competitive results.

Level  III courses are conducted at the (mobile) RDCs, using IAAF-accredited Level III Lecturers and standardized new course materials (Ebook; Interactive “Coaches’ Eye”).

Entry to Level III is open to coaches who pass the Level II assessment procedures, have completed a minimum of one further year of practical coaching experience, and have been recommended by their national federation. 


Perhaps the most important educational initiative in support of the development of key personnel in athletics.

Was the introduction of the IAAF Academy in 2004.

Providing professional education at the highest level.

To achieve this, the Development Department has created partnerships with respected and recognized universities worldwide.

To offer courses that blend academic rigor in the sports sciences with the most elite of IAAF experts’ practical experiences.

The IAAF Academy currently offers the following courses: 

· Chief Coach
· Youth Chief Coach
· Elite Coach (head coach for events group)
· Coaching Development Director 

The Academy aims to provide the coach with the relevant professional knowledge, understanding, and practical experience to create an environment capable of delivering high levels of individual and team performance at specific events or developing innovative coaching development environments over multiple seasons. 


All active coaches will be transferred to the database from their old qualification and eligibility to the new structure and subsequently informed of their new status. The global transfer date is January 1st, 2016. ‘Table 2’ pdf illustrates the process of transfer.



IAAF CoachesRecognizing the resources and effort involved in developing an education program.

It may be beyond capabilities on a national level.

However, the IAAF operates a Coaches Education and Certification System (CECS). Which is available as a service to Member Federations that would like to use it.

As of March 2007, the CECS features five levels of courses operating in seven languages.

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Russian
  • Portuguese

For each course level, the IAAF provides a standard syllabus.

Also qualified lecturers and the necessary learning support materials.

However, financial resources for the system come from the IAAF and its Area associations.

And Olympic Solidarity and other partners on the international and national levels.

Also, self-funded options at higher levels.

However, the Operation of CECS is coordinated by the IAAF Member Services Department (MSD).

And the IAAF Regional Development Centres (RDCs).

The new 5-Level CECS structure has been created. To address the following areas specifically (see ‘Fig.1’ pdf and ‘Fig 2’ pdf).

Please note:

Individuals interested in attending a Level I or Level II course should contact their National Federation directly.

However, Level III and Level IV courses are normally staged at the RDCs. And are designed for a smaller number of coaches who will have special duties within their Federation.

Level V is the IAAF Academy program, which is organized in cooperation with sports universities.

Also, for further details of the 5 Levels of award see ‘Table 1’ pdf and below:

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For a full description of Coaching Levels 1-5, please click here.




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