Many athletes often dream about becoming a coach, inspiring people of all ages to give a sport their all and perform to the best of their abilities. Fortunately, it is a highly interdisciplinary career field that requires knowledge of both athletics and human interaction. Numerous majors in the social and physical sciences are beneficial to a student hoping to become a coach.
Physical education is one of the best majors for coaching and probably offers the broadest range of skills because the degree touches on everything from the science behind sports to the psychology involved in encouraging strong performances. At Ithaca College, for example, a physical education major might take courses in motor skill development, adapted physical education and sport, and philosophy and principles of coaching. More importantly, many physical education majors require some sort of field activity that might involve shadowing or interning with a coach. This provides added professional development to a degree that already provides relevant courses for a career as a coach.
Kinesiology and Physiology
Kinesiology and physiology majors provide prospective coaches with a very close understanding of the physical and chemical science that allows the human body to perform great athletic feats. A major in kinesiology or physiology is likely to include courses like strength and conditioning, biomechanics and anatomical kinesiology. Such courses will help a future coach identify precisely why an athlete on his or her team is not performing up to par. These courses will allow a coach to help a player to better position a body part to maximize strength and performance.
Nutrition and Fitness
No coach can ignore the health implications of taking part in intense athletic training. As such, a major in nutrition or fitness will help a coach make sure that he is not being too demanding and is keeping his athletes' general physical health in mind. A major in nutrition will allow students to take courses like nutrition in life cycle, nutrition for healthy lifestyle, and nutritional problems in the U.S. In addition, students will be schooled in basic scientific principles like chemistry, biology and biochemistry. All of these courses combine to make sure a coach can understand the relationship between nutrition and general fitness, to make sure athletes are operating at full potential both on and off the field.
Exercise and Sports Medicine
Exercise and sports medicine is another obvious choice for a career as a coach. Coaching is a complex field that sometimes involves rectifying medical issues that occur on the field. Courses like prevention and care of athletic injuries, exercise physiology, and sports ethics in society all will be helpful for a coach to identify and assess athletes' injuries. In addition, these courses will help a coach make sure he is training his athletes while keeping their general physical health in line.
Educational Requirements Other Than a Major
When choosing a major that suits a career as a coach, it's important to keep in mind that some employers might have specific legal requirements. For example, many high schools require a potential coach to have passed the necessary state certification process that qualifies them to coach in a school environment. Candidates without these qualifications may still be able to work at the school, but only on a part-time basis. Not all coaches work for schools or even for universities, though, so coaches with other private organizations might not face these certification exams. Finally, some coaches may not need a degree at all, as some employers might instead be interested in a candidate with advanced sports and athletic experience regardless of any degree held.
- The College Board: Big Future: Majors -- Physical Education and Coaching
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Coaches and Scouts: How to Become a Coach or Scout
- Calvin College: Academics: Kinesiology
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst: Nutrition: Nutrition and Health Sciences Track
- St. Olaf College: Exercise Science Major
- Ithaca College: Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education: Physical Education (B.S.)
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