Athletes Deserve Educated Coaches

Author: Jim Schmutz, ASEP Executive Director


I will occasionally hear from athletic administrators, instructors, or coaches who comment that states will require more education for an individual to be a barber or hair stylist than states do for someone to coach. We sadly chuckle at the notion that the person cutting our hair has more extensive, required training than the people coaching our youth and high school athletes. As the laughter subsides, I will go back to work creating resources, tools, and education courses designed to make coaches better, while the administrators and coaches return to making their programs better.

It is a recurring theme, so I decided to do a little fact checking. Here's the situation in three states. New Jersey's hair styling license procedure requires 1,200 hours of course work followed by state issued exam. Arkansas requires 1,500 hours. Oregon requires 1,450 for hair design, while a barber only needs 1,100 hours.

My intent in raising the hair stylist requirements is not to disparage or question the standards. To the contrary, it's comforting to know the person who takes ten minutes to cut my hair has so much invested in providing this service. I simply wanted to use this example to reinforce that I think the standards of education and training required of our coaches is not commensurate with the responsibility of spending hundreds of hours with athletes during a school year or season.

In a recent conversation, ASEP founder Rainer Martens pointed out that coaching today remains an occupation and not a profession. The difference is grounded in standards and corresponding educational investment demonstrating professional competence. The long-term objective is to emphasize the profound impact coaches have on their athletes and to raise the standards for educational requirements so coaching can hold its rightful place as a profession rather than simply as an occupation. ASEP remains committed to this goal.

In the short term, ASEP can bring quality education opportunities and valuable recognition for completing courses. To that end, I am proud to announce a new partnership between ASEP and Michigan State University (MSU) and its Institute for the Study of Youth Sports (ISYS). With the new educational partnership, K-12 faculty-coaches can earn continuing education credits in a subject area that is practical for their role as a coach and supports their efforts to maintain their teaching certification.

Through the arrangement with MSU, faculty-coaches can take ASEP Coaching Principles and Coaching [Sport] Technical and Tactical Skills online courses through the university and earn MSU College of Education and Michigan Board of Education CEUs - credit they need for recertification. They also will gain knowledge and training that will enhance both their coaching experiences and the playing experiences of their athletes.

Additionally, athletic administrators can now offer a tangible value to their faculty coaches who take these courses. Faculty coaches will receive a return on their educational investment and become more capable and committed in their role as coaches. That can help build a culture of coaching excellence in an athletic department and assist in retaining more faculty coaches.

In awarding CEUs, MSU will follow CEU guidelines developed by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET). Given that each state board has different requirements for teacher licensure, certification, and CEU courses, administrators and coaches must check with their district or state Department of Education to ensure CEUs from MSU and the Michigan Board of Education will be accepted.

I am excited about this development and hope it is just the beginning of improved education for our country's coaches.

For more information about this exciting opportunity, visit

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