Legendary basketball coach John Wooden said it best: “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” A great coach is often a great mentor, teaching not just skills specific to a sport, but lessons that can be applied to life in general. Because of the role that coaches play in the development of an athlete, it is important that a coach has the training and knowledge to put their athletes first and bring out their best.
Plenty of coaches understand the X’s and O’s of their sport, but not nearly enough of them have ever received formal education, and that’s a critical issue according to Dr. Tim Baghurst, professor and director of FSU’s Interdisciplinary Center for Athletic Coaching (also known as FSU COACH). “There are millions of coaches in the United States and less than 10 percent receive any formal training whatsoever,” he says. “Our programs and the classes they include have been designed by coaches for coaches, which gives them that real-world applicability.”
Baghurst believes that coaches need to understand interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, self-awareness, ethical decision-making, leadership and more. In the past year, he and the FSU COACH faculty have helped deliver these skills to coaches interested in taking their knowledge and skills to the next level through an online graduate certificate program. Now, FSU is offering a new online master’s in athletic coaching.
The online master’s in athletic coaching is the first of its kind in Florida and invites coaches around the country and world to learn how to nurture and lead athletes better. The skills learned in this program can help coaches at any level of competition, from amateur to professional leagues and everything in between. And because the degree is offered online, coaches can work their way through the program while maintaining their current job. Furthermore, those completing the certificate can apply up to 12 credit hours of their coursework towards the master’s program.
“We wanted to offer two different options for our students,” says Baghurst. “The certificate is a short program designed to be completed in just two semesters. The master’s degree is much more in-depth, and courses include the many different sport and exercise disciplines coaches should be familiar with if they want to excel.”
Courtney Beck is a coach for the FSU Club Gymnastics Team and began the certificate program to continue improving her coaching skills. “So far, this program has exposed me to the latest research, styles, and tactics used within the coaching profession and has allowed me to improve my methods through utilizing coaching tactics that are proven to work,” she says. Eventually, she hopes to start a NCAA gymnastics program at Florida State University, using the skills and knowledge she has gained through the program.
Xavier Vega is a current coach at Cypress Palm Middle School in Naples, Florida. He completed the certificate program in fall 2020 and plans to enroll in the master’s program. “Each day, I ask my student-athletes to give their best. They deserve that I give them my best as well,” he says. The athletic coaching certificate has helped him improve his craft “so that athletes under [his] guidance can benefit and reap the rewards.”
The online master’s in athletic coaching is a 30-credit hour degree offered completely online. You can learn more about it here.
The online graduate certificate in athletic coaching requires 12 credit hours of coursework. More information is available here.