The best degree to become a coach is usually a Bachelor’s in Physical Education, but this depends on the student’s career goals, target age group and state licensing requirements. Generally speaking, coaches have an interdisciplinary degree that trains them in everything from athletics to nutrition to psychology to human development.
A physical education degree is one of the best majors for coaches, because it offers the broadest range of skills. This degree teaches coaches about the science behind sports, the psychology of athletic performances and the progression of motor skill development. Physical education degrees also contain coursework about athletic leadership, sport and philosophy, adapted physical education and the principles of coaching. Almost all physical education programs conclude with an internship and field activities with coaches.
A physical education degree will explore the theoretical approaches to physical fitness, health and wellness. Students will learn about the current trends that define learning theories, practical approaches and inspirational aspects of coaching. Learning principles and applied strategies are described through educational research tools and studies. As an educator, coaches themselves must not only possess scientific and theoretical knowledge, but they must be able to demonstrate well-being and physical competency.
Fitness and Nutrition
Physical activity is naturally emphasized in most degrees for coaches, but nutrition is equally important. No coach can openly ignore the health implications and performance risks of poor nutrition during intense athletic training. A nutrition and fitness major will empower coaches to help their athletes maintain their general physical health. Students take classes in nutrition life cycles, healthy lifestyles and common nutritional problems. They also take basic classes in biology, chemistry and biochemistry, so coaches understand the relationships between nutrition and general fitness.
As part of nutrition, these programs teach students about human growth, physical development and motor learning. These classes train coaches to understand what constitutes normal and abnormal growth and motor functioning of children and adolescents. Coaches will know how to develop and implement activities that improve strength, agility, balance, coordination and movement. Coaches also learn how to assess physical skills, fitness levels and developmental motor coordination levels.
Future coaches can also choose a degree in exercise or sports medicine. Coaching inevitably will involve responding to and managing health issues that occur on the field and medical issues that develop off the field. These programs offer courses related to the evaluation, prevention and care of athletic injuries. Students learn about rehabilitation techniques, exercise physiology and sports ethics. This degree is best suited for a coach who will work in a physical demanding field, such as rugby, lacrosse and football.
Students who want to become coaches can also choose a degree in kinesiology or physiology science. These majors provide coaches with an in-depth understanding of the physical and chemical sciences that power the human body to achieve athletic feats. A major in kinesiology or physiology will include courses related to biomechanics, strength training, physical conditioning and anatomical kinesiology. These courses help future coaches to identify why athletes are under performing and know how to maximize strength and performance, according to the Society of Health and Physical Educators.
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The best degree to become a coach is a physical education major, but there are additional alternatives. Keep in mind that some states and employers have specific legal requirements for coaches, such as licensure, certification processes and academic qualifications.