In June, the University of Missouri will launch a first-of-its-kind online master's degree in positive coaching for school athletic coaches, community role models and life coaches. The online master's of education in positive coaching is an innovative program that fuses best practice concepts from coaching psychology, sports psychology and positive psychology.

Led by Dr. Rick McGuire, who spent nearly three decades as head coach of the Mizzou track and field team, the 30-hour program is built upon the understandings, strategies and techniques proven to be most effective for creating optimal performance and achieving personal and competitive excellence. The program also focuses on honoring and upholding the highest principles and values of education and sport.

"For many children and young adults, one of the most important relationships they will have in school is with a coach," said Dan Clay, dean of the MU College of Education. "This program enables coaches and others to strategically examine best practices in coaching to provide a positive coaching culture. This online degree program could have a far-reaching impact on our youth and the way coaches are trained in this country."

The program will adopt new approaches to real-world challenges through focused attention on critical issues for coaches and sport leaders. Issues covered include the scientific foundations for training for high performance; the ethical, legal, administrative, gender and multicultural issues related to sport and coaching; and utilizing the sport and the coach to influence a more positive and productive total school and institutional environment.

"Positive coaching is about striving for excellence, achieving optimal performance, and teaching and modeling the process of success," McGuire said. "It is also about leading a group of individuals to becoming a highly-effective team; communicating with our followers just as we would wish to be communicated with by our own leaders; respecting and protecting the self-worth of everyone, being demanding without being demeaning; and shaping each individual's will without breaking their spirit."

McGuire, who is nationally recognized in the field of coach education, is the University of Missouri's director of sport psychology for Intercollegiate Athletics and a graduate professor of sport psychology. In addition to serving as Missouri's head track and field coach for 27 years, he was a member of the United States Olympic staff in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics.

In addition to McGuire, the online master's degree program will be supported by several distinguished faculty from MU's College of Education and recognized leaders from the Department of Athletics at Mizzou. The degree is offered completely online, with no campus visits required. It is designed for coaches, educators and other professionals who work with children and adolescents through schools, local community athletic programs or in health roles.

The program joins more than 30 online graduate degrees and certificates from the MU College of Education. The College offers these programs through Mizzou Online, which serves as the administrative gateway for schools and colleges to offer their degrees and courses available to students at a distance.

"The benefit of earning your graduate degree online from Mizzou means you get to experience MU faculty delivering MU-quality courses to your home, office or favorite coffee spot," said Kim Siegenthaler, co-director of Mizzou Online. "You can pursue your degree and your career at the same time."