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Guest Blog: Coaching, Playing and Innovating……Change is Good!

At the sports coach UK Level 4 Coaches Conference there was a real buzz in the room as the conference allowed elite level coaches from many sports  to be able to share knowledge and swap experiences. I was delighted to be able to attend the first of hopefully many cross-sport elite coaching events showcasing the value of continual professional development (CPD) at its best.

At the event we were lucky to see some really inspirational keynote speakers. I was particularly pleased to get the chance to hear from Melanie Marshall and Marieanne Spacey, two highly successful female coaches. Melanie highlighted the importance of mental toughness in the journey both as an athlete and as a coach. In her words: ‘Personality is who you are, character is what you choose to be.’

 Marieanne Spacey shared some of her highlights of working with the  England 2015 World Cup squad, a group of women who managed to capture the imagination of a nation never before passionate about women’s football. 

Throughout the day we got the chance to take part in interesting and interactive workshops, all designed around the needs and challenges of elite coaching. The day was carefully planned to give us a relevant and engaging choice of workshops with a personalised programme for each delegate.  I especially enjoyed the ‘Think Differently, Perform Better – A Creative and Innovative Approach to Your Coaching Practice’ workshop by Jon Woodward & Richard Cheetham, which focused on the importance of never growing complacent or routine orientated in our coaching. Both as coaches and as athletes ourselves we know how the ‘day in, day out’ nature of high performance training can become boring and this workshop was a great reminder that when we innovate, we inspire, and when we inspire and are inspired we can make magic happen!

For me, the overarching topic of the day was the challenges of the transition from elite player into coaching. It was great to see so many people who had reached the height of their sport finding a new outlet for that passion in coaching. We were reminded that the skills we have as athletes alone are not always enough. When it comes to coaching we find ourselves on a new learning journey to help others achieve their sporting dreams!

As with any industry the higher we get up the coaching ladder the more insular and isolated we can become within the demands of our sport. The opportunity to meet high performance coaches from other sports, share ideas and learn together is essential to maintaining good practice and professional excellence. This is where the real value of cross-sport CPD for coaches at an elite level is essential.

Recent research by Dr. Leanne Norman and her team at Leeds Beckett University, as featured this week on a BBC Sport report, highlights a lack of role models and mentors as one of the reasons we see so few female coaches pursuing careers at elite level. Events such as this sonference offer a great opportunity to show off  female coaching talents like Melanie Marshall and Marieanne Spacey; both amazing role models for young women looking to make a career as professional sports coaches.

The conference was a really positive experience for me and a great success for sports coach UK in my opinion…...I shall be looking forward to the next one!

By Hollie Bees, Tennis Coach