June 13, 2015 • Athletic AdministrationCoaching

Take advantage of professional development courses

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 courses for everyone

There is an answer to this dilemma. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has a full array of coaching education courses. Included in its cadre of offerings are five excellent online courses, which are free.

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 

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’s easy for an athletic administrator to check to see if the coaches listened to you.

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