A State Analysis of High School Coaching Certification Requirements for Head Baseball Coaches

Abstract:

The purpose of this study was two-fold: 1) to investigate the coaching certification status for high school athletic leagues’ head baseball coaches and 2) to recommend a model high school certification program for head baseball coaches in the State of Hawaii. To meet selection criteria, the participating high schools must compete in both varsity and junior varsity baseball. The population surveyed for this study included all 59 athletic directors from the five athletic leagues within the Hawaii High School Athletic Association (HHSAA). The 14-item survey instrument contained four sections: (1) certifications, (2) experience, (3) professional growth, and (4) education. The results indicated that a small percentage of HHSAA athletic directors required a national coaching certification. Secondary findings indicated that a small percentage of HHSAA athletic directors required previous playing and coaching experiences, attendance at coaching-training seminars, and a high school diploma. Importantly, 95% of HHSAA members required background checks from their head baseball coaches.

Introduction:

There are about 6.5 million U.S. athletes that participate in interscholastic sports each year (National Federation of High School Association {NFHSA, n.d.}, 2004). Approximately 800,000 men and women coached these athletes in the school system (NFHSA, 2004). Thirty years ago, the majority of coaches were certified teachers. Today, most high school coaches are not certified (National Association of State Boards of Education {NASBE}, 2003). Currently, less than 8% of school coaches receive a specific education to coach (Martens, Flannery, and Roetert, 2003). Only 13 states specify that coaches must have a teaching certificate, and all of these states allow exceptions to this rule (NASBE, 2003).

Advocating for U.S. quality coaching and coaching education began in the 1960’s from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (National Association for Sport and Physical Education {NASPE}, 2006). Over the next 40 years, NASPE would partner with various national organizations in spearheading the national movement for high school coaching certification. By the mid-1980’s, this national coaching movement was advanced by the American Sport Education Program (American Sport Education Program {ASEP}, 2007). ASEP, founded by Rainer Martens in the early 1970’s, had by 1986, 1,400 certified instructors who trained more than 50,000 coaches across America (ASEP, 2006). In 1991, this coaching educational movement was expanded when AESP joined forces with the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) (ASEP, 2006).

In addition to ASEP advancing the coaching educational movement in the 1990’s, in 1991, another U.S. national coaching certification program, called the Program for Athletic Coaches Education (PACE), was adopted (Seefeldt and Brown, 1991). Currently, PACE consists of six coaching areas: (1) Philosophy, (2) Growth and Development, (3) Sports Medicine, (4) Psychology, (5) Litigation/Liability, and (6) Sports Management (Seefeldt and Brown, 1991).

As a result of the 1990’s coaching education movement, by 1998, 66% of state agencies provided funding for or offered staff educational development to high school coaches (Burgeson, Wechsler, Brener, Young, & Spain, 2001). By 2000, 40% of the states required coaches to be certified in first aid and CPR, and 34% required coaches to complete a coaches’ training course (Burgeson et al., 2001).

As a result of the lack of the states’ initiative of requiring or recommending CPR and first-aid certification for all coaches, in 2003, the NFHS recommended that all coaches (experienced and non-experienced): (1) possess a current and valid CPR and first aid certification and (2) complete a planned systematic coaching education curriculum by 2006 (NASBE, 2003). In addition, the NFHS recommended that even certified teachers serving as head coaches maintain their professional development by completing a minimum of one coaching education course per year during their coaching tenure (NASBE, 2003).

In 2005 the NFHS, in partnership with ASEP, adopted NASPE’s National Standards for Sport Coaches (NASPE, 2006). The purpose of the guide was to “provide direction for coaching educators, sport administrators, coaches, athletes and their families, and the public regarding the skills and knowledge that coaches should possess” (NASPE, 2006). In addition, NASPE oversees the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) (NASPE, 2006). NCACE reviews coaching education and certification programs that seek accreditation based on compliance with the National Standards for Athletic Coaches (NASPE, 2006).

Due to the relentless national efforts of NASPE, NCACE, NFHS, ASEP, and PACE, in 2001, high schools began emphasizing coaching education primarily for their respective head coaches. Among the co-ed middle/junior and senior high schools that offered co-ed interscholastic sports (99.2%), 51.7% required their head coaches to complete a coaches’ training course (Burgeson et al., 2001). In addition, 51.3% and 45.6% of these secondary schools required head coaches to be certified in first aid and CPR, respectively (Burgeson et al., 2001).

Currently, there are 40 states that have adopted, recommended, or required one of two national certification programs (ASEP or PACE) for their respective head coaches (Jackowiak, 2003). Currently, ASEP continues to work with 40 state high school associations to provide coaching educational information for more than 25,000 coaches per year (ASEP, 2006).

If Hawaii’s secondary high school coaching environments are similar to the U.S. coaching scene, Hawaii’s high school athletes may be exposed to unqualified coaches. Since baseball is played in all Hawaii’s high schools that compete in interscholastic sports, the investigators examined Hawaii’s head baseball coaches’ educational status to determine Hawaii’s high schools’ coaching certification status.

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was two-fold: 1) to investigate the coaching certification status for high school athletic leagues and 2) to recommend a model high school certification program for head baseball coaches in the State of Hawaii. To meet selection criteria, the participating high schools must compete in varsity and junior varsity baseball. The study specifically addressed the following research questions:

(1) What types of coaching qualifications or certifications exist within the 50 states’ high school athletic associations?

(2) What types of coaching qualifications or certifications exist in Hawaii’s public and private highs schools?

Method:

Every athletic director in all 59 public and private high schools in the state of Hawaii completed the survey. The 14-item survey contained four sections: (1) certifications, (2) experience, (3) professional growth, and (4) education. Each question had a yes or no response. Frequency distributions and percentages of the athletic directors’ responses were determined in order to compare the similarities and differences among the five high school leagues, and between public and private high school leagues. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results:

A total of 59 athletic directors completed usable questionnaires, which represented a 100% return rate. Table 1 highlights the responses among HHSAA’s five high school leagues. Table 2 compares collectively the similarities and differences between public and private school leagues. In addition, Table 3 indicates the certification status among the 50 states.

Table 1: HHSAA League Comparisons

Requirement BIIF (n=14) MIL (n=9) KIF (n=4) OIA (n=23) ILH (n=9)
Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No Yes No
#1 National Cert. Policy 0
(0%)
14
(100%)
2
(22.2%)
7
(77.8%)
1
(25%)
3
(75%)
3
(13%)
20
(87%)
1
(11%)
8
(89%)
#2 CPR/First Aid 2
(14%)
12
(85.7%)
2
(22.2%)
7
(77.8%)
2
(50%)
2
(50%)
12
(52%)
11
(47%)
1
(11%)
8
(89%)
#3 Strength/Cond. Coach 0
(0%)
14
(100%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
0
(0%)
23
(100%)
1
(11%)
8
(89%)
#4 H.S. Playing Experience 5
(35.7%)
9
(64.3%)
2
(22.2%)
7
(77.8%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
2
(9%)
21
(91%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)
#5 College Playing Experience 0
(0%)
14
(100%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
0
(0%)
23
(100%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)
#6 H.S. Coaching Experience 3
(21.4%)
11
(78.6%)
1
(11.11%)
8
(88.9%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
3
(13%)
20
(87%)
2
(22%)
7
(78%)
#7 Background Checks 14
(100%)
0
(0%)
8
(88.89%)
1
(11.1%)
4
(100%)
0
(0%)
22
(95%)
1
(4%)
8
(89%)
1
(11%)
#8 Annual Rules/Regulations Exam 1
(7.1%)
13
(92.9%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
20
(87%)
3
(13%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)
#9 Coaching Ed. Prior to Employment 2
(14.3%)
12
(85.7%)
1
(11.11%)
8
(88.9%)
1
(25%)
3
(75%)
3
(13%)
20
(87%)
1
(11%)
8
(89%)
#10 Annual Coaching Education Seminars 4
(28.6%)
10
(71.4%)
3
(33.33%)
6
(66.7%)
2
(50%)
2
(50%)
8
(34%)
15
(65%)
3
(33%)
6
(67%)
#11 Offer Coaching Ed Seminars 9
(64.3%)
5
(35.7%)
8
(88.89%)
1
(11.11%)
3
(75%)
1
(25%)
22
(95%)
1
(4%)
8
(89%)
1
(11%)
#12 Parental Meetings 13
(92.9%)
1
(7.1%)
9
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
0
(0%)
22
(95%)
1
(4%)
8
(89%)
1
(11%)
#13 High School Diploma 8
(57.1%)
6
(42.9%)
5
(55.56%)
4
(44.4%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
17
(73%)
6
(26%)
4
(44%)
5
(56%)
#14 College Degree 1
(7.1%)
13
(92.9%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)
0
(0%)
4
(100%)
2
(8%)
21
(91%)
0
(0%)
9
(100%)

As indicated in Tables 1 and 2, comparison of HHSAA’s leagues’ athletic directors’ (n=59) responses with regards to their respective head baseball coaches’ four-area certification status is as follows: (1) In Certifications, HHSAA high school leagues’ athletic directors (88.14%) did not require any formal coaching certification for their respective head baseball coaches, and interestingly, 67.8% didn’t require CPR and First Aid certification; (2) In Experience, HHSAA (84.75% and 84.5%, respectively) did not require their respective head coaches to have any past high school playing experience nor previous coaching experience, but HHSAA (94.92%) did require their league officials to conduct substance abuse and criminal background checks on their respective head baseball coaches prior to their coaching; (3) In Professional Growth, only 13.56% of HHSAA required their respective coaches to participate in any coaching education-training program prior to becoming a head baseball coach. Only 33.9% and 35.59% respectively of HHSAA required annual coaching education-training seminars and passing a rules/regulations examination; in contrast, HHSAA (94.92%) required parental-coaching meetings where head coaches addressed team goals, parent-coaching behavior, team rules, player responsibilities, and player discipline issues; and (4) In Experience, HHSAA (57.63 %) required at least a high school diploma from their respective head baseball coaches.

Table 2: Private vs. Public

Private (n=15) Public (n=44) HHSAA (n=59)
Requirement Yes No Yes No Yes No
#1 National Cert. Policy 1
(6.67%)
14
(93.33%)
6
(13.64%)
38
(86.36%)
7
(11.86%)
52
(88.14%)
#2 CPR/First Aid 2
(13.33%)
13
(86.67%)
17
(38.64%)
27
(61.36%)
19
(32.20%)
40
(67.80%)
#3 Strength/Cond. Coach 1
(6.67%)
13
(93.33%)
0
(0%)
44
(100%)
1
(1.69%)
58
(98.31%)
#4 H.S. Playing Experience 1
(6.67%)
14
(93.33%)
8
(18.18%)
36
(81.82%)
9
(15.25%)
50
(84.75%)
#5 College Playing Experience 0
(0%)
15
(100%)
0
(0%)
44
(100%)
0
(0%)
59
(100%)
#6 H.S. Coaching Experience 4
(26.67%)
11
(73.33%)
5
(11.36%)
39
(88.64%)
9
(15.25%)
50
(84.75%)
#7 Background Checks 14
(93.33%)
1
(6.67%)
42
(95.45%)
2
(4.55%)
56
(94.92%)
3
(5.08%)
#8 Annual Rules/Regulations Exam 0
(0%)
15
(100%)
21
(47.73%)
23
(52.27%)
21
(35.59%)
38
(64.41%)
#9 Coaching Ed. Prior to Employment 1
(6.67%)
14
(93.33%)
7
(15.91%)
37
(84.09%)
8
(13.56%)
51
(86.44%)
#10 Annual Coaching Education Seminars 5
(33.33%)
10
(66.67%)
15
(34.09%)
29
(65.91%)
20
(33.90%)
39
(66.10%)
#11 Offer Coaching Ed Seminars 13
(86.67%)
2
(13.33%)
37
(84.09%)
7
(15.91%)
50
(84.75%)
9
(15.25%)
#12 Parental Meetings 13
(86.67%)
2
(13.33%)
43
(97.73%)
1
(2.27%)
56
(94.92%)
3
(5.08%)
#13 High School Diploma 7
(46.67%)
8
(53.33%)
27
(61.36%)
17
(38.64%)
34
(57.63)
25
(42.37%)
#14 College Degree 1
(6.67%)
14
(93.33%)
2
(4.55%)
42
(95.45%)
3
(5.08%)
56
(94.92%)

Data in Table 2 revealed the following findings comparing the HHSAA pubic high schools’ and private high schools’ athletic directors’ collective responses in the four-area coaching standards: (1) Certification– Only public (13.64%) and private (6.67%) high schools’ athletic directors required their respective head baseball coaches to have national coaching certification and CPR/First Aid (38.64%, 13.33% respectively); (2) Experience– Interestingly, only a small remnant public or private high schools’ athletic directors’ required their respective head baseball coaches to have any previous high school playing experience (18.18% and 6.67% respectively) and previous coaching experience (11.36% and 26.67%, respectively); in contrast, HHSAA required substance abuse and criminal background checks (95.45% and 93.33%, respectively); (3) Professional Growth– Only public (15.91%) and private (6.67%) athletic directors required their respective head baseball coaches to attend coaching education-training seminars prior to employment and to attend annual coaching education-training seminars (34.09% and 33.33%, respectively); and (4) Education– The majority of public (61.36%) athletic directors required their respective high school head baseball coaches to have at least a high school diploma, in contrast to private athletic directors (46.67%).

Table 3: Head Coaching Requirements by StateX = Required, R=Recommended

State Teaching Cert. NFHS/ASEP CPR First Aid
Alabama X X
Alaska X
Arizona X R
Arkansas X X
California R X X
Colorado X X R R
Connecticut R X X
Delaware X X
D.C. X X
Florida X
Georgia X
Hawaii
Idaho X X
Illinois X X
Indiana X X ->
Iowa
Kansas X X
Kentucky X X X
Louisiana X
Maine X X
Maryland X
Massachusetts X X
Michigan
Minnesota R R X
Mississippi X X
Missouri X X
Montana
Nebraska X R
Nevada X X
New Hampshire X X X
New Jersey X X
New Mexico X X
New York X X X
North Carolina R
North Dakota
Ohio R X X
Oklahoma X X
Oregon X
Pennsylvania R
Rhode Island X X X
South Carolina X X
South Dakota X
Tennessee X
Texas X
Utah X X
Vermont X
Virginia X
Washington X X X
West Virginia X X
Wisconsin X X
Wyoming X X X X

Discussion:

In the Certifications section of the questionnaire, the findings indicated that a very small percent of HHSAA’s leagues’ athletic directors required a national certification policy and CPR/First-Aid certification. In contrast, HHSAA (84.75%) offered coaching education-training seminars for its head baseball coaches. If HHSAA doesn’t’ require its respective coaches to complete a recognizable national certification program, including CPR and First Aid, then coaches have to further their professional growth by attending their leagues’ recommended coaching education-training sessions.

In the Experience section of the questionnaire, a small percent of HHSAA’s athletic directors required previous high school playing and coaching experience in baseball. Nevertheless, nearly all (94.92%) HHSAA’s athletic directors required substance abuse and criminal background checks on their head baseball coaches. The difference in these requirements may be due to the importance of coaches’ character, rather than playing and coaching experience.

In the Professional section of the questionnaire, a minimal percent of HHSAA’s athletic directors required their head baseball coaches to attend coaching education-training seminars prior to employment, and to attend annual coaching education-training seminars after employment. A related finding revealed that a high percent of HHSAA’s athletic directors (84.75%) offered coaching education-training sessions for their head baseball coaches. Obviously, HHSAA recognized the importance of coaching education-training sessions, but HHSAA possibly encountered attendance problems in the past in coaches or baseball coaches who have not positively reviewed the coaching education-training curriculum.

The Education section of the questionnaire indicated that over half (57.63%) of the HHSAA’s athletic directors required at least a high school diploma for their head baseball coaches. This low percentage may be due to a lack in initiating a standard policy requiring all potential head baseball coaches to have a high school diploma. Certainly, high school dropouts would encounter more difficulties in obtaining high school head-coaching jobs than a high school graduate.

An interestingly supplemental finding revealed that there were only two nationally-certified high school strength and conditioning coaches. No HHSAA league athletic director required his or her respective high school to have a certified strength and conditioning coach on staff.

In Hawaii, 92 high schools compete in men and women interscholastic sports. In 2005, 34,758 student-athletes participated in Hawaii’s 24 state high school sports programs (K. Amemiya, personal communication, January 15, 2007). Not one head coach had a national strength and conditioning certification credential. Yet in any of these 92 high schools, if the athletes participated in any on-campus formal off-season or in-season strength and conditioning programs, unqualified sport-coaches conducted these regiments, thereby increasing the risk of injury to these 34,758 student-athletes. In a progressive state, like Hawaii, which was the first and only state to require every athletic high school to have on staff two-full time nationally certified athletic trainers, the HHSAA should recognize the need to require and fund one full-time certified strength and conditioning coach on every high school staff.

Conclusions and Recommendations:

In conclusion, there is a national movement toward high school coaching certification. To date, there are 40 states that have adopted, recommended, or required one of two national certification programs — ASEP or PACE. There seems to be a disparity in Hawaii’s high school athletic departments. There is no movement to adopt, recommend, or require national certification for Hawaii’s coaches, yet Hawaii is the only state to require two athletic trainers in every high school. Therefore, Hawaii’s athletic departments should seriously consider the following recommendations: (1) HHSAA should adopt either the American Sport Education Program’s (ASEP) or the Program for Athletic Coaches Education (PACE) national coaching certification requirements for their head baseball coaches; and (2) The National Standards for Athletic Coaches created by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) should be incorporated into HHSAA’s ASEP or PACE national accreditation-coaching program. The national standards should be used as a basis or framework for design of selection, evaluation, and education programs.

References:

American Sport Education Program (2006). ASEP’s Beginnings. Retrieved November 20, 2006, from http://www.asep.com/about.cfm

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National Association for Sport and Physical Education (1995). National Standards for Athletic Coaches. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt.

National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) (2003). Education requirements for athletic coaches. NASBE policy update, 11 (4). Retrieved May 12, 2006, from http://www.nasbe.org/Educational_Issues/Policy_Updates/11_4.html

National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education (NCACE) (2006). NCACE program registry and approved program list. NASPE. Retrieved May 10, 2006, from http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/template.cfm?template=programs-html

National Federation of High School Association (NFHSA) (n.d.). Coaching education in America: A white paper. Retrieved May 13, 2006 from http://www.nfhs.org/staticContent/PDFs/cep/cep_whitepaper.pdf.

Seefeldt, V. & Brown, E. (1991). Program for athletic coaches’ education. Carmel: Benchmark Press, Inc.


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