United Soccer Coaches & Ohio University Soccer Masters program
The Patton College of Education at Ohio University and the United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) launched an online master’s degree track in Recreation and Sport Sciences with a concentration in Soccer Coaching in June 2013. It has been highly successful.
Coaching education has been the consistent ‘buzz’ topic for several years. Years ago, coaching education was an afterthought with only a few participants. Today, the need for coaching education is widely accepted. From this newfound respect has sprung a plethora of education programs for soccer coaches of all levels.
This superabundance has lead to some confusion in the soccer market, requiring clarification. What are the best coaching education programs in the soccer market? What are the differences in these programs? Why are some better than others?
Back before the trend emerged, The Patton College of Education at Ohio University and the United Soccer Coaches (formerly NSCAA) were in the business of educating coaches. In fact, United Soccer Coaches has focused on educating coaches since it was founded in 1941. Together, these the university and the soccer coaching association launched an online master’s degree track in Recreation and Sport Sciences with a concentration in Soccer Coaching in June 2013. It has been highly successful.
This unique online program has two face-to-face residencies with the next one at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Chicago, IL in January 2019.
Here is an interview, courtesy of United Soccer Coaches, with Dr. David Carr, Associate Professor, and Coordinator of Coaching Education at Ohio University. Carr has played a key role in the curriculum development of the online master’s degree track that offers a concentration in Soccer Coaching. Carr is also a candidate for the board of directors of United Soccer Coaches.
Question: How did the Master’s Degree in Soccer Coaching at Ohio University come about?
David Carr: I first approached United Soccer Coaches (then NSCAA) about the possibility of developing a soccer-specific coaching master’s program in 2007. Ohio University already had a Coaching Education program, so it seemed like a good fit. It didn’t happen right away but we kept talking and working on the idea.
Finally, in 2012 I received the go-ahead at Ohio to develop it and we crafted a Memo of Understanding between Ohio University and United Soccer Coaches. We launched the program in June 2013 with 15 students.
Question: What are the unique aspects of this program?
David Carr: This is the only sport specific master’s degree program in the United States. With United Soccer Coaches, we are partnered with the largest coaching association in the world. We get to focus on coaching the Beautiful Game with coaches who really love what they do and want to get much better at it.
Question: Who is this program designed for?
David Carr: The Online Master’s Degree at Ohio University is soccer specific in content and application and serves youth, club, interscholastic, intercollegiate and professional level coaches who are intent on pursuing a career in soccer coaching.
Our students come from across the US and we have a number of students from different parts of the world.
Some have made their way to the US and are coaching here while others are living and working in their home country and completing their work online with us.
Question: What are the content areas included in the Soccer Coaching curriculum?
David Carr: The curriculum consists of foundations of coaching including methodology and coaching theory; reading, writing and applying research related to coaching, player development, and performance; injury prevention and risk management; concepts of youth player development; advanced player development; psychology of coaching; training and conditioning for soccer; performance recovery; utilizing technology in coaching and leadership and team dynamics in soccer.
Question: Can you tell us a little about the differences between traditional face-to-face programs and online learning
David Carr: The online soccer program we designed allows students to engage in one content area at a time on a schedule that works for them. Students typically are provided with a variety of methods to interact with material that can be presented through video, podcasts, webinars, discussion boards, instructor interactions (we do very little lecturing) and personal investigation.
This is done in “windows of exploration.”
Class size is targeted at about 20 students and we offer only one class at a time for seven weeks of involvement.
We want students to continually ask “why?”
Question: Tell us about the use of residency courses and what occurs during these residencies?
David Carr: Research in online learning has shown that there are benefits to learning and engagement when online participants know each other and have built relationships with fellow students, faculty, and staff.
This is a key aspect of why we conduct an opening 5-day residency for each cohort. We have also learned that bringing the cohort together towards the end of the program of study further builds these relationships that continue long after the program ends.
We also bring in top-level coaches for unique sessions.
Question: Who are the faculty and how did they become part of this master’s degree program?
David Carr: The faculty includes both U.S. Soccer National Staff and United Soccer Coaches Academy Staff coaches, many are published authors and all have a long history of coaching education.
Just some of our staff includes:
- Jeff Vennell, retired college coach and administrator who was the first program facilitator and now teaches Coaching Workshop II at the residency;
- Robin Russell, UEFA consultant and formerly with the English FA teaches Utilizing Technology in Coaching;
- Dr. Tom Turner, Director of Coaching for Ohio North teaches Advanced Player Development;
- Dr. Lew Atkinson, former Associate Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education, teaches Research Methods;
- Dr. Jay Martin, Head Coach at Ohio Wesleyan University and the winningest coach in college men’s soccer history with a total of 621 wins, teaches Leadership and Team Dynamics;
- Joe Fabian M.D. is the only faculty member to have a master’s degree in soccer coaching and teaches Injury Prevention & Risk Management; exercise physiologist and author
- Dr. Don Kirkendall teaches Training and Conditioning;
- Dr. Jay Williams, professor of Exercise Science at Virginia Tech teaches the Performance Recovery course.
- Dr. Bill Steffen, former professional goalkeeper and sports psychologist teaches Psychology of Coaching.
We also do a lot of video assessment of every coach in the program which is handled by former Skidmore College men’s soccer coach Ron McEachen. As an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Coaching Education, I teach Coaching Workshop 1, the opening residency course and Coaching Soccer: The Beautiful Game.
Question: What have you learned after five years of coordinating this program?
David Carr: The biggest take away is that the coaches in this program, past and present, have very busy and complicated lives and it takes a great deal of work on their part to be a graduate student while teaching, coaching, working, and in many cases, raising a family.
Question: How did you get your start as a Coaching Educator?
David Carr: I was very involved in sports growing up and I played nearly everything. Sports were very seasonal when I was growing up in New Jersey and Vermont so had opportunities in soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf and downhill skiing. I decided I wanted to be a physical education teacher and coach so went to the University of Maine to earn my HPE degree.
After a year at Marshall University and second year at Middlebury College as an assistant, I landed a Head Coaching opportunity at The University of Charleston in West Virginia. At that point, I began teaching coaching courses for the NSCAA, now United Soccer Coaches. I really enjoyed working with coaches and there was a tremendous need to help coaches, especially at the youth level, teach the game correctly.
I have now been involved in coaching education for over 30 years. Eventually, I enrolled at Virginia Tech to complete my doctorate in education with a focus on sport pedagogy and got the opportunity to build a coaching education program at Ohio University.
Note: David Carr was interviewed by United Soccer Coaches