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Major creates career opportunities within coaching and applied science

Students at West Virginia University can now focus on the dynamic industries of high-performance athletics and recreational sport, creating one of the only undergraduate programs in the country specifically featuring coaching and performance science.  

 The Coaching and Performance Science program, housed in the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, blends sport and movement science knowledge and professional development to prepare graduates for the growing field of athletics and applied sport sciences. Students can complete extremely valuable hands on learning with faculty, WVU Athletics, WVU Medicine or a variety of sport organizations.  

 “Today, coaches need to evaluate athlete performance from the perspective of both a sports scientist and a sport pedagogist,” Valerie Wayda, associate professor and associate dean of undergraduate and academic affairs, said.  

“To ensure students in this major are appropriately prepared for the different specializations within sport, the cutting-edge curriculum allows students to complete a specialization area in coaching and leadership, strength and conditioning, or applied sport science,” Wayda added.

Courses establish a grounded understanding of human structure and movement, human development and learning, differentiated instruction and sport pedagogy, training theories and sport movement analysis. Students are taught the skills to construct an evidence led training prescription, monitor and assess athlete performance skills, and to utilize that information when coaching. The application of technology and data to make coaching decisions is more important today than ever. 

“To provide a formal education in performance and coaching science at the undergraduate level is a unique and exciting opportunity for students. The expectation that coaches utilize a scientific process is a rapidly growing professional expectation,” said Guy Hornsby, coaching and performance science assistant professor, CPASS, and coaching science coordinator within the Human Performance Innovation Center at WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute. 

Career possibilities include applied sport scientist, sport coach, sport instructor, recreation or sports director, strength and conditioning coach, sports specialist and recreation specialist, scouting and videography. 

Pathways to graduate school feature sport coaching, sport management, exercise physiology, kinesiology, sport and exercise psychology, leadership studies and data analytics.   

Students have opportunities to get involved with research within the college or the larger university community. They may work under the mentorship of a college faculty member through special research programs or may work with faculty members through the college-based centers.  

 Students can apply what they are learning in the classroom within innovative, internationally recognized research centers located at WVU. Research centers and initiatives are directed by faculty members within the college and found in the Human Performance Innovation Center and the Center for Applied Coaching and Sport Sciences

Wayda says that students will participate in community partnerships as part of the capstone experience. 

“We partner with a strong network of Morgantown area sport-related organizations to support student internships. Placements may include youth sport organizations, collegiate sport programs, middle and high school athletics, Special Olympics or other programs for persons with disabilities, campus recreation, strength and conditioning programs and more,” she said.  

To select the major, indicate Coaching and Performance Science (CPS) as program of choice on the WVU Admissions materials.  

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