NFHS Announces New 'Middle School Coaching' Course

Nfhs

In an effort to target the unique needs of interscholastic coaches at the middle school level, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has announced the addition of a new “Middle School Coaching” course on the NFHS Learning Center, with a corresponding national credential program currently in development.

“We are excited to introduce this course specifically developed for middle school coaches,” said Dan Schuster, NFHS director of educational services in a statement. “We look forward to providing the middle school community with valuable education and resources to create a positive experience for students.”

“Middle School Coaching” is designed as a counterpart to “Fundamentals of Coaching” – the flagship course for high school coaches that was also the first course ever launched on the NFHS Learning Center in January 2007.

Much like its predecessor, “Middle School Coaching” will serve as the core course in a group of four courses that will comprise the curriculum for the NFHS Level 1 Middle School Coach Credential. The details for that credential, subsequent coach credentials, and all other middle school-related content will be housed on a dedicated landing page on the NFHS Learning Center.

The opening unit of “Middle School Coaching” establishes the role of the influential, student-centered “teacher-coach” within the mission of interscholastic middle school athletics, as well as the five outcomes teacher-coaches are expected to achieve on behalf of their student-athletes. Balancing the numerous factors involved in running an efficient middle school athletics program, such as scheduling, eligibility, team finances, athletes’ health and well-being, and handling emergency situations, is also addressed in the early stages of the course.

Creating an optimal coaching environment and utilizing appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication is another major focus. In these sections, teacher-coaches are taught the foundational steps for producing “task-involved” students rather than those who are “ego-involved,” and are given the tools for communicating effectively with student-athletes as both a sender and receiver of messages. Mastering two-way feedback, listening with empathy and developing students’ confidence, concentration, goal-setting abilities, and other mental skills are among the key strategies.

Appropriate conditioning methods for middle school athletes are addressed later in the course and are part of a plan that goes far beyond the physical drills conducted during practices. In addition to stretching routines, this section informs teacher-coaches of the benefits of proper nutrition, hydration, injury treatment and adequate amounts of sleep, and explains the negative effects of performing-enhancing substances.

The final unit of the course examines the various styles and stages of students’ learning processes, and how teacher-coaches can structure and modify practices to best suit the needs of each student-athlete. The unit also provides a variety of coaching tips for use before, during and after competitions, and explains the advantages of written practice plans, “tactical interviewing” and consistent evaluation of each athlete.

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