Students can find distance learning graduate certificate programs in coaching education, sport coaching and athletic coaching, as well as online Master of Science in Coaching and Master of Arts in Education with a coaching specialization programs. These are typically designed for experienced coaches who are seeking to advance their knowledge and skills.
Prospective graduate students must have a bachelor's degree, which sometimes needs to be in a relevant field, like physical education. A certain amount of coaching or related experience often must be documented as well, and it is usually a factor in admissions decisions. Once admitted, students can expect to earn an online master's degree in around two years; certificate programs typically take less time to complete.
Coursework in degree and certificate programs in this field focuses on the latest coaching and technical skills, which coaches use to assess and train a diverse array of athletes. Additional focus is placed on demonstrating good teamwork and providing an understanding of competitive sports. Online coaching courses may cover the following topics:
- Sport movement analysis
- Psychology of sport
- Physical basis of coaching athletes
- Promoting positive youth development with sports
- Advanced motor development
- Skills, techniques and strategies for coaching
- Care and treatment of athletic injuries
- Organizational leadership for sport administration
Some programs require students to prepare a portfolio before graduating. Distance learners may also have to complete an internship in their area, which could be at their current place of employment if it involves coaching.
Coursework in online coaching programs is most often separated into modules or class sequences. Students may be accepted into a cohort, which means they are part of a group that takes the same classes at the same time. Virtual classrooms give distance learners access to course materials, including lectures and assignments at any time of day.
Graduates of distance learning coaching programs should be prepared to work with children or adults as physical education teachers (with proper state licensure), coaches or nutritionists. Those holding a master's degree or graduate certificate in coaching may work in a variety of areas, such as the following:
- High schools and colleges
- Olympic athlete teams
- Youth sports
- Recreational and after-school programs
- Athletic administration
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of coaches and scouts was expected to increase at a rate of 6% during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The BLS further states that individuals who are state-certified to teach both academics and physical education will have the most job opportunities.
Through online graduate certificate and master's degree programs, aspiring coaches and trainers have the opportunity to explore the physical and mental aspects of sports performance, as well as how they can use this knowledge to train and motivate athletes at different levels. The scheduling flexibility of distance learning education makes it easier for students who are already working full-time to complete these programs.