Do I Need to be Certified to be a Coach?

Individuals, who enjoy being with children and watching them excel in sports continuously ask the question, “do I need to be certified to be a coach?” Just the asking of such a question gives credence to their desire to coach children. Only those who care about children and their development would be interested enough in their neighborhood, community, and society would show enough interest to ask the question.

Different Levels of Coaching

Coaching in sports begins in the neighborhood with parents showing their children how to carry a football, swim backstroke, or kick a soccer ball. High school students helping elementary children understand the act of dribbling while playing basketball is also a form of coaching. For these games around the neighborhood, there is no need for a coaching certificate. The requirement for certification begins with organized sports and carries through to the upper levels of collegiate sports. Various levels of coaching require different levels of certification. Some grandfathers still remember when Pee-Wee league baseball coaches were friendly neighbors or local businessmen who were interested in the development of children in the community. Those days are gone, and some sort of certification is often necessary for even the lowest level of organized sports.

Different Sports Certifications

Communities have different standards of certification for adults who wish to coach children in sports. According to Safekids.org, coaching certification, even if it is merely a background check and an interview, is a necessary step to gain the trust of parents to put their children’s wellbeing in another adult’s hands. There was a time when broken arms or legs were considered a right of passage for youth. With the advent of concussion concerns, the position of coach has gained new importance in youth sports. When children reach the middle school level, only certified teachers can coach school sports. Many high schools demand a master’s degree from teachers before they are allowed to coach any sport. At the college level, coaches are expected to have been competitors in the sport they coach as well as having degrees and certifications from national organizations like the American Coaching Academy or the NFHS Coach Certification Program.

Advantage of Requiring a Certification

Whether at a community level or the highest collegiate competition level, the advantage of communities and schools requiring coaching certifications is threefold. First, the certification programs include programs that help coaches gain the skills needed to inspire leadership, self-confidence, and personal growth in the students under their care. Second, certification emphasizes the ethical side of sports. Coaches pass on to their students the concept of fair play and healthy competition to their student-athletes. Lastly, certified coaches learn to identify physical and mental injuries that may confront student-athletes. All three of these aspects of coaching create a tripod on which the successful coach depends.

Modern sports, whether at the community level or in interscholastic competition requires that coaches be certified in one way or another. An aspiring coach should look toward the laws of the state in which they are pursuing a coaching career to identify the level of certification needed at the level they wish to coach. Coaching without certification is no longer a possibility.

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