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The 2014 Fit 4 Women Coaching Conferences – The path to enlightenment??

For three evenings The Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) delivered, in partnership with sports coach UK, the Fit 4 Women 2014 Coaching conference. Each event, held in Greenwich, Coventry and Bristol was fully booked with an audience of coaches and coach development colleagues from all over the country.

There were guest speakers from each region, identifying some amazing case studies which both informed and inspired the audience. By the end of the final event in Bristol event (26 February) I wanted to move to Minehead and take up rugby (thanks to Dionne & Clive at Minehead Barbarians RFC)!

Incredible role model guest speakers from the world of women’s sport included Pamela Cookey (England Netball Captain); from the world of football, Casey Stoney (Arsenal Ladies FC & current England Captain) and Rachel Brown (representative and coach from the RFU) and Danielle Waterman (England women’s Rugby Union). The importance of positive female role models was recognised by those in the rooms as was the impact that a great coach has on a female athlete or player.

A consistent theme that came out of every event? It wasn’t that women are better than men (its about equality, not ‘men-bashing’!), nor was it about women only coaching women and men only coaching men - irrespective of their gender, as a coach you coach the individual. They are not boys & girls/men & women, they are athletes, players or participants first. Their development is based on what support you provide and takes into account their own abilities, goals and motivations. However, you may get more feedback, questioning and input from coaching women or girls. So, for example, your communication and reflective skills as a coach may be extended in terms of explaining your motives for a specific drill, but won’t that help you develop your own approach to coaching? Generally speaking women want to know ‘why?’ more than men, and they want to understand your approach to doing what you are doing.

I must add a note of caution. The last paragraph generalises all men and all women. As you know (and as the great film ‘The Life of Brian’ taught us) we are all individuals. Just because a woman is a woman it does not mean they will act in any one way. Talk to your participant – ask them what they want from the session, and carry on talking to them: Only then will you have true enlightenment!!


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