October 5, 2012 • Athletic AdministrationCoaching

Take advantage of professional development for coaches

Money is tight, so make the most of free available offerings

Athletic directors across the country feel overworked, overwhelmed and totally maxed out the majority of the time. This is simply what most athletic directors face day-to-day and week-to-week with increasing expectations, responsibilities and things to do.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, that many athletic administrators don’t have time to create and conduct their own professional development program for their coaches. While these efforts are vitally important, they usually fall prey to other priorities, emergencies and state and district directives.

Even if you have the time, how do you find the money to finance professional development activities and programs for your coaches? No school or program has the money to do everything it wants or should do. It simply isn’t possible.

Five free courses

There is an answer to this dilemma. The National Federation of State High School Associations has a full array of coaching education courses. Included in its cadre of offerings are five excellent online courses, which are free. That’s right–they don’t cost a thing.

Here are the five free NFHS courses, which every coach in the country should take:

1) Sportsmanship. Improving the behavior of athletes, coaches and fans at games has been a major concern and goal for all involved in high school athletics for many years. While this course may not solve every problem, it provides excellent ideas through examples included and guidelines for everyone.

2) The Role Of The Parent In Sports. All coaches and athletic directors can get something out of this course considering the effect parents have on our athletic programs. This presentation explains how the parent can and should be involved, and what behavior is acceptable. These parameters are essential for the student-athlete to have the best possible experience in education-based athletics.

3) Concussions In Sport–What You Need To Know. This course provides an excellent basis to help coaches recognize and treat concussions. Preventing serious injury and possible death of an athlete is the No. 1 objective for all coaches.

4) A Guide To Heat Acclimation And Heat Illness Prevention. Very much like the concussion presentation, this course helps to prepare the coach to understand the seriousness, fundamentals and steps to take to avoid this heat-related issue. This 20-minute investment helps to protect your student-athletes.

5) Creating A Safe And Respectful Environment. This course covers the aspects of inappropriate relationships, hazing and bullying, including cyber-bullying. Preventative measures, reporting procedures and the role that the coach has to play are included. Every coach, and administrator, needs to take this course before starting the next season.

Additional benefits of courses

Every athletic administrator throughout the country should require his or her coaches to complete these five courses–yes, require! Only someone who is crazy, lazy or uncommitted to providing the highest quality program for your student-athletes would pass on these courses.

These five NFHS Coaching Education courses provide outstanding, useful information and they are extremely well produced and professional in their approach. Since the courses are offered online, they are easy and convenient to complete. Each course takes approximately 25 minutes to finish.

While some state athletic associations already have required coaches to complete the Concussion Course before stepping onto the field or court, you don’t have to wait for a state mandate. Give your coaches a few weeks in which to complete one of the specified courses.

After your imposed time limit for completion of the course has expired, it is easy for an athletic administrator to check to see if the coaches listened to you. Simply go to www.nfhslearn.com and click on “Coach Search” on the top navigational bar. After entering a coach’s first and last name, and your state, the completed courses (and the date of completion) appear. It couldn’t be any easier.

Additional free NFHS offerings

In addition to the five online courses, introduce your coaches to Coaching Today. This is an online professional magazine, which is posted on the NFHS website. Access is free for all coaches and athletic administrators … or actually anyone.

Access this professional site by logging onto www.nfhs.org and clicking on the Coaching Today icon. On the site, there are practical, useful and topical articles and materials, which are changed every month or so. Periodically, send a quick email to remind your coaches to revisit the site and take advantage of the latest information.

Another excellent source of professional development materials for your coaches is available at www.nfhslearn.com. On the top navigational bar, click on Locker.com and find four options.

1. Helpful Links. This includes many national athletic associations and sport-specific associations for your coaches.

2. Documents. This includes supplemental materials and course outlines.

3. Video Library. Check out all the instructional videos available.

4. More Great Information. Among the other features are NFHS Coach Education course descriptions.

These four accessible parts of Locker.com provide you with useable resources and materials for use with your coaching staff. And there is no associated cost to you or your coaches.

As budgets are cut across the country, and athletic administrators and coaches who are involved in high school athletics are faced with limited time, these sources are your answer to a better prepared and professional coaching staff. These sites are quick, easy to use, high quality and free–you can’t beat that!

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