Become A Parlaympic Classifier
Classification is a structure for competition. Paralympic athletes have an impairment in body structures and functions that leads to a competitive disadvantage in sport. Consequently, criteria is put in place to ensure that winning is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus, the same factors that account for success in sport for athletes who are able-bodied. Classification is the process by which athletes are assessed to determine the impact their impairment has on their ability to compete in a specific sport.
Classifiers are the officials who are educated, trained and certified to conduct the classification evaluation process for the respective Paralympic sport. A classification panel is made up of a number of classifiers (as defined by each sport's classification rules). Classifiers may be either medical or technical and the respective sport rules will define which types of classifiers comprise a classification panel.
According to the IPC’s International Standard for Classifier Personnel and Training, classifier competencies must include that a classifier has:
- a thorough understanding of the relevant sport classification rules;
- an understanding of the relevant sport and its rules;
- an understanding of the Code and the International Standards; and
- the professional qualifications, level of experience and any other skills or competencies the relevant International Sport Federation determines the classifier must possess to conduct athlete evaluations in accordance with the International Standard for Athlete Evaluation
Medical classifiers should be certified health professional in a field relevant to the eligible impairment categories, such as a medical doctor or physical therapist, who has knowledge and experience in dealing with people with physical impairments. They must to have the prerequisites set by the international federation of the sport in which they desire to be trained as a medical classifier.
Technical classifiers must have extensive coaching background, be former athletes and/or have a degree in physical education, biomechanics or kinesiology with a suitable level of knowledge of the impairments and activity limitations associated with the sport in which they pursue classifier training.
U.S. Paralympics, in conjunction with National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and High-Performance Management Organizations (HPMOs) offer classifier education courses. The frequency and timing of classifier training courses varies depending on the sport and the need for classifiers in that sport.
Each National Federation (NF) – i.e. the NGB/HPMO mirrors their classification system with the International Federation (IF) system for the respective sport. Classifier training/education courses are held in conjunction with a sporting event so that the classifier trainee can gain experience in all portions of the process including observation during competition. Courses are typically 2-4 days. Components of a course will include general classification theory, sport-specific classification rules and regulations and evaluative processes, practical experience in conducting classification evaluation, and observation during competition. Classifier trainees must be available for the entire period of the training course.
Following each course, the classifier trainees will receive feedback and information from the classification educators/classifiers that facilitated the training. Trainees may be certified as a national classifier after one course if their knowledge, skill level, proficiency warrants such. Oftentimes, the trainee may be encouraged to attend a second course or work to gain more practical experience with certified classifiers before gaining their national certification.
A classifier is a sport official and a volunteer position. Once certified as a national classifier, the local organizing committee hosting classification evaluation is responsible to pay travel and accommodation costs for the classifiers working at the event. Trainee classifiers are responsible for covering their own expenses to attend a course.
If you are interested in becoming a classifier for a Paralympic sport, you should contact the NGB/HPMO of the sport you desire to become a classifier for. A list of NGBs/PSOs for Paralympic sports can be found on our Eligibility webpage.
U.S. Paralympics keeps a database of interested classifiers to assist NGBs/PSOs in identifying interested and qualified candidates. To be added to the database of interested classifiers, please complete the Interested Classifier Information Survey. Please note that the survey asks for a resume to be uploaded.
You may contact the USOPC Classification Manager at NPCUSAclassification@usopc.org with any questions.