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Why my Mum is my Hero.

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    OK, so this isn’t strictly about coaching, but I am a female coach and becoming a coach was all inspired by a very special woman – my Mum.   My Mum is a strong woman.  Born in a small town in the North of England, as a teenager my Mum looked after her very poorly Dad whilst emotionally supporting her Mum.  She went on to train as a nurse and over the years has saved hundreds if not thousands of lives, affecting every person she meets in the most magical way.  She works more hours than she

Amelie is part of the solution…

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I have spent this week following Women’s Sports Week, a fantastic initiative aimed at raising awareness of women in sport.  I have fully immersed...

Coach Like TED

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For those of you that know what TED is, you know what a powerful tool it can be.  Presentations from some of the Worlds top minds to an audience full of the worlds top minds.  For those of you that don’t, I urge you to visit their website.  It is full of 20 minute inspiring, thought provoking videos ranging from the super logical to the very strange!  Entrepreneurs, scientists, sports stars and many other successful people are invited to present on any topic of their choice for 20 minutes.  Believe me, there are some amazing presentations!

Anyway, Coach Like TED.   Based on the book by Carmine Gallo “Talk Like TED”, my blog below uses the chapter headings in the book that explains how to deliver a prefect TED Talk and rather than applying them to presenting a speech, I have applied them to delivering a Coaching session:

1.Unleash the Master Within – to be a successful coach, you have got to know what your coaching! Now this sounds obvious and I am not for one second suggesting that you can only be a successful coach if you know every single detail about what your coaching (which in this day and age with biomechanics, match analysis, psychology and much more is almost impossible!), but you definitely need to be proactive in learning as much as you can.  Read books & articles, listen to audio, watch videos, attend conferences and workshop...do everything you can to improve your knowledge.  And not only that, be confident with your knowledge!   Your athletes and players need to trust you, they need support from you and they need to know that what you’re asking them to do on a cold, rainy Sunday morning is going to make them better athletes and players!  And if you’re not confident enough to ‘release the master within’ – fake it! Act as if!

2.Master the Art of Storytelling – It has been scientifically proven by brain scans that story telling engages the human brain and can help the speaker connect with their audience.  It is of course an essential part of coaching, being able to engage your athletes or players.  So, paint them a picture and make them imagine and feel the rewards of what you need them to do.  Tell them a story of when you were an athlete and when the hard work paid off, tell them stories of their favorite athletes or teams when they won races or matches or championships.  Engage the athletes imagination and you will engage the whole athlete.  Tell a story and make them believe that anything is possible.

3.Have a conversation – a Coach has to be many things to an athlete; a leader, a motivator, a parent, a critic, a Councillor etc etc.  (I am sure we could come up with a list of a hundred things!) As a Coach, you have to make sure that your body language and tone matches whatever role you are displaying verbally, if not, your listeners will distrust your message!  So, practice your delivery and internalize your content so that you can present your words and instructions as easily as if you were having a conversation with a close friend.

4.Teach Me Something New – Probably the most obvious point, teach your athletes and players something new!  As they evolve, what you teach them evolves.  Hence why you have to keep on top of your knowledge.  Make sure you keep them on their toes, ensure that every now and again you teach them something completely new, keep learning novel for them.

5.Deliver Jaw Dropping Moments – grab your athletes attention by surprising them, impressing them, or delivering surprising news to them.  Can you surprise them with a fun team building session?  Invite an athlete or someone of stature they respect to your session?  Impress them by showing them something you can do?  Keep them on their toes, and give them no choice but to  give you there full attention.

6.Lighten up – don’t take yourself as a Coach too seriously.  Yes of course there are moments when you need to be the leader, take charge and make a decision there and then within a game moment, but you have got to lighten up!  Players and athletes will not respond to a coach that is always shouting, criticizing and can’t take a joke.  So lighten up; make fun of yourself, join in with team bonding games, dress up at Halloween, organise a Christmas party...let your team know that you do have a sense of humor.  This will lower individual players defenses and make them more willing to listen.

7.Stick to the 18 minute Rule – human brains go into overload when they receive too much information for too long a time period.  If you have something important you need to focus on in a session, aim to deliver it in 18 minutes.  Get straight to the point and give them your message.  If it has to be longer than this, make sure you have a good amount of breaks in between for them to recharge.

8.Paint a Mental Picture – athletes like to be challenged and they do not like being bored.  Try and deliver your session or your message by tapping into as many senses as possible for your athletes.  Senses such as sight, sound, touch, taste and smell will support the learning of the athlete and will allow them to visualize their task ahead and improve their focus and concentration.  The more senses that are engaged, the deeper the message will be embedded in their bodies.

9.Stay in your lane – if your a Track Coach, this one is pretty much the number 1 rule!  But in a more metaphorical sense, staying in your lane refers to being honest and genuine with your athletes and players.  Everyone can spot a phony and if you don’t believe in the message your delivering, neither will your players.  If you are not confident about being a Coach, your players won’t be confident players.  Be authentic, open and transparent, do not deviate from who you are trying to be.

Nearly every woman feels uneasy about self-promotion. Do it anyway!

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Why Networking is Important for female coaches. The only way to succeed and progress in your coaching (and in life), is to take yourself out...

Do women only coach development programmes actually work?

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Do women only coach development programmes actually work? (Coach W)

Since London 2012 it seems there has been a rise in the interest of women who coach.  There have been some big headline stories recently given to Corrine Diacre (first female head coach to a mens football team in the top two divisions in Europe), Becky Hammon (first female assistant coach in the NBA), Amélie Mauresmo (first female coach to a male tennis player in the top 40) and Shelley Kerr (first female coach to a mens team in the UK) thanks to their new coaching roles and the fact that they will be coaching men.

Here is an interesting thought, did any of these women take part in women only coach development programmes / projects or did they just pull up their socks and get on with it?  After reading interviews with all these women and learning about their coaching roles, it is obvious that they or their players do not see them as a female coach, simply as a coach.

In a recent BBC interview when asked about her gender as a coach, Shelley Kerr answered; “It shouldn't be about gender, it should be about your ability as a coach."

And Andy Murray, the first male tennis player in the world top 40 rankings stated: “"To be honest, I’m just of the feeling that it’s not about gender but about the right person to do the job. Sometimes, 10 men could get hired over 10 women, and sometimes, it should also work the other way around. It’s about finding the right personality for the situation and the right person, basically. And to me, it isn’t about whether it’s a man or a woman. It’s about finding the right person for the situation, for the team’s or the individual’s needs." 

So, is it us women that are making a fuss about our gender, is it the media trying to sensationalise it, or it is sports federations jumping on the band wagon?

There is of course an obvious problem with the stats on female coaches...behind the wave of enthusiasm and excitement, the number of women at relatively high levels of sport are still woeful.  For example:

*England Athletics have stats in 2014 proving that of 1081 qualified coaches, only 24% are female
*NCAA Division I women's soccer coaches, only 27% of teams have women as head coaches
*The Australian Sports Commission state that only 20% of state coaching roles are held by women

Now, (perhaps thanks to the media attention) sports governing bodies around the world are starting to address these low numbers by creating women only coach development programmes.  There is the fear that they may simply be jumping on the band wagon and spending money on female coaching programmes just to tick a box. 
*British Athletics have funded the Female Coach Legacy Programme since 2012
*Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association have the Female Apprentice Coach Programme




Surely a focus on the individual coach, rather than their gender is more likely to have a lasting effect on the coaching stats?  How many of these women who have attended these gender specific programmes have gone on to hurdle the barriers to their coaching (identified as family commitments, time, cost and lack of mentors) and progressed to a higher level?


The fact is, it’s down to us, the women who coach day in and day out to stand up and have the courage to apply for coaching roles and for many to see past their own gender.  Yes of course we need the backing of our governing bodies and our coaching colleagues.  It’s a comforting feeling knowing you can talk to fellow female coaches about the difficulties you’ve had with male athletes, or coaches or having another woman to sit with during yet another arduous tournament weekend.  But to think that women can only develop and learn in a fully female environment is wrong in my opinion. 

I would be very interested to hear from women who have been on both mixed gender programmes and women only programmes.  Which benefitted your coaching the most?