This is a question not often asked in sport? The reason being is that people can name the appointed ‘head coach’ but they are not aware of the differing roles a coach is expected to play to support her athlete.
Attending the British Athletics Women in coaching conference reinforced the need for coaches to simultaneously juggle the role of sport expert, NGB liaison, minder, personal assistant and ‘mum’ to the athlete without being given guidance or training in these areas. It also reinforced that whilst coaches are encouraged and supported to obtain formal NGB coaching qualifications, this needs to be supplemented with informal knowledge learning in areas that sit outside of the sport specifics yet, vital to perform as a quality coach.
To hear blunt and realistic experiences from elite coaches including Australian sprints and hurdles expert Sharon Hannan who did not have a performance athletics nor sport background and yet, has coached one athlete to an Olympic Gold medal with others on the verge of breaking through the international competition arena with little support was insightful.
• be determined to succeed
• challenge existing practices if they do not suit your athlete’s preparation
• be prepared to offer suggestions to policy makers and practioners who may not understand the need for them or deem change is not required and most importantly
• ‘set the ground rules’
Understanding ones’ self, our learning preference styles, our personality styles through ‘the female chimp explored’ workshop was fascinating as it asked me to outline what my ‘chimp’ does like and dislike and therefore how to respond to this behavioural notion. It also confirmed the personalities I need to identify within my coaching and support entourage. Knowledge learning allows me to improve my delivery style, question trends and practices.
Thanks to Project 500, attending the conference gave me valuable insight and development that, I would not have otherwise had the access to. The conference confirmed that coaching knowledge can be transferred across sports and this practice should be endorsed and encouraged. We are after all, women who want to deliver the best coaching service we can provide.
So, who is the coach?
She is the person who has 100% trust from her athletes, colleagues, peers and family, she is the analysist who pours hours viewing footage to search for one detail that can enhance performance, she is the most important cog in the wheel, supporting the athlete to succeed. Now this has been recognised, we need to ask: ‘how do we pro-actively transfer generic knowledge between female coaches in Britain?’