The NFHS Coach Education and Certification Program is built upon two core courses, sport-specific courses and some electives. In terms of professionalism and developing an understanding and appreciation of education-based athletics, this initiative is vital for all high school coaches. The beneficiaries of certified coaches are the student-athletes and the program.
In addition to the courses involved with the certification effort, there are 14 free courses that should not be overlooked by an athletic administrator, principal or superintendent for use within their athletic program. There are three general purposes why these offerings can and should be used.
Professional Development: One of the 14 legal duties of athletic administrators, as outlined in the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Leadership Training Course 504, is providing training for their coaches. This can be defined as professional development and these free courses should be used as part of every school’s program.
How would you use these courses? Choose one of the courses that you think is appropriate for the beginning of the school year and ask that all of your coaches – head, assistant and junior varsity – complete it. Give them a specific timeframe – for example – three weeks. Since these courses are online, a coach can access them in the evening, on weekends or at lunch time – whenever it is convenient.
At the end of your established deadline, you can easily check to see if your coaches have completed your request. On the top Navigational Bar of the www.nfhslearn. com site, click on User Lookup. Enter the coach’s first and last name and your state, and you will see courses listed and the date completed. This feature makes accountability very easy and there can be no debate. You might have the coach print the certificate of completion for each course and give you a photocopy.
For the remaining free courses, you can schedule one every two or three weeks throughout the school year. This will provide a great starting point for your professional development program and with no accompanying cost.
Education for Parents and Student-Athletes: While the NFHS courses have been developed for coach education and certification, some of the offerings are also suitable, valuable and useable with parents and athletes.
At your preseason parent meetings and utilizing notices on your websites, it would be wise to recommend the following courses for your parents:
Since these courses are taken online, they can easily fit into busy schedules when it is most convenient. And yet, the courses are all professionally produced and provide excellent information on topics that many parents and athletes will find helpful.
In addition, the four ‘Learning Pro’ Courses – Homework Helper, Reading and Learning Strategies, Research Skills and Testing Tips would be extremely useful for student-athletes.
Remediation Efforts: If there has been a problem with a coach, athlete or parent at a contest, the Sportsmanship Course can be employed as a corrective measure and a requirement before coaching, playing or attending the next contest. As with all NFHS courses, an athletic administrator can easily monitor and verify if any of these individuals have completed the course. This is not to say that completing the course will solve all problems, but it provides an easy and convenient starting point.
Also, if a coach has had problems communicating and relating with parents, you might suggest the Engaging Effectively with Parents Course. This would represent a great learning tool and the completion of the course can be tied in nicely with recommendations which are normally included in the annual coaching evaluation.
Even though many states require coaches to complete the Concussion in Sports course, for some coaches, parents and athletes this offering can be helpful if anyone tries to circumvent the athletic trainer’s or physician’s directives. Also, the Heat Illness Prevention course should and can be used in the same manner. These two courses can help to get the correct procedures and information out to those who need reminders or even a basic understanding.
Hopefully, you don’t have problems with hazing, bullying or cyberbulling within your program; however, either as a proactive or remedial approach, the Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment course is one that all athletic administrators should use in their setting!
Considering the quality of the courses, the fact that they easily fit into busy schedules by being offered online and that they are free, everyone should be utilizing them within their program. This is a no-brainer, so get started today.
A complete listing and previews of the 14 free NFHS courses can be found at www.nfhslearn.com.
Dr. David Hoch is a former athletic director at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland (Baltimore County). He assumed this position in 2003 after nine years as director of athletics at Eastern Technological High School in Baltimore County. He has 24 years experience coaching basketball, including 14 years on the collegiate level. Hoch, who has a doctorate in sports management from Temple (Pennsylvania) University, is past president of the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association, and he formerly was president of the Maryland State Coaches Association. He has had more than 450 articles published in professional magazines and journals, as well as two textbook chapters. He is the author of a new book entitled Blueprint for Better Coaching. Hoch is a member of the NFHS High School Today Publications Committee.