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New Policy Statement on Course Design

Guidelines for course design reflect years of work by some of USDAA's finest competitors, judges, and thinkers.


USDAA has just published a new policy statement on course design that is intended to help understanding of the performance requirements in all classes at each level of competition at USDAA events. The initial release addresses the titling classes, with an additional statement planned for tournament courses (which are presently outlined in the respective tournament rules).

The Policy Statement on Guidelines for Course Design can be found in the "Rules & Regulations" or the "Group Services" section of the Web site.  Under Rules & Regulations, click on the "eBook" link.  In Group Services, click on the "Administrative Forms & Policies" link and scroll down to "Official USDAA Policy Statements."

The Policy Statement for Guidelines for Course Design is the result of many years of dedicated work by USDAA and its course reviewers. While it was felt that such guidelines were long needed to assure qualitative standards were being met, we equally shared the concern that such guidelines must be carefully presented so that the creative element in course design would not be lost. Creativity is a key component in course design that helps to keep the sport exciting for competitors, trainers, and spectators alike. As a result, it is important to emphasize that the document is issued as "Guidelines" rather than as "Rules." This emphasis keeps with the premise that course design is more an art than science, and is dynamic in nature, with periodic shifts and changes over time.

It is not expected that all aspects of these Guidelines be implemented on every course; rather, the Guidelines present how various ideas can be utilized so that they conform to the USDAA standards for competition and safety. In their implementation, it is desired that creativity be the starting point in any course design, and that the guideline principles be found present within the course elements.

Judges should engage in constructive dialog with course reviewers in the normal course of preparation for an event, seeking balance and flexibility in achieving the goals for competition.  In practice, should any of the parameters of these Guidelines seem to unnecessarily limit creativity or not adequately address safety issues, please contact the USDAA office with your comments and suggestions for improvement. 

Of equal purpose, these Guidelines are intended to provide guidance to training instructors and competitors alike as to the expectations in performance at the various levels and classes of competition. With so many newcomers to the USDAA venue each year, understanding these Guidelines should prove beneficial in formulating sound and realistic training curriculum in order to prepare for competition at each level, leading to an enjoyable experience and enabling a greater chance for success.

The Committee for development of these Guidelines included Tim Laubach, David Hanson, Janet Gauntt, and Kenneth Tatsch, with support from Stuart Mah, Scott Chamberlain, Mark Wirant, and Paul Stolzenburg. The project spanned more than two years and hundreds of hours of work collectively by committee members. USDAA President Kenneth Tatsch thanks each for their extensive contribution to this important project.     

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