What to Offer Her
Providing a pre-course information evening/webinar can support the recruitment and development of female coaches (i.e. this action could be used through all levels of your coaching pathway). These sessions can outline what the course will involve, what coaches can expect when they attend and sometimes even provide a first introduction to other coaches on the course. These steps can help ease any nervousness or apprehension a coach might have about getting involved.
After the course, look to signpost and support coaches into active coaching roles and continue the support through mentoring, peer support and ongoing, continuous professional development opportunities
Pre-course/event Information and Communicating with Coaches
A further barrier for women accessing learning events is not knowing what to expect when they attend the event /workshop. By providing sufficient information about the event /workshop/programme, you are more likely to have more female coaches register for it. This information can be made available through your normal promotion channels, i.e. on the website, Eventbrite page, social media, etc. but think also about sending out personalised emails with information inviting them to attend, and supply the following:
- Date, time, cost and location of the event
- The schedule of events including a breakdown of classroom- based learning, practical exercises and assessments taking place.
- Who is the event suitable for, i.e. what level coach? (State beginners or no knowledge of the sport if applicable)
- What the learning outcomes will be
- Information about when the ‘downtime’ and on-course breaks are.
- Who is leading each session (with contact details and bio of the person if possible)
- What clothing and equipment is needed
- Details of accommodation (if relevant)
- Who else is expected to attend the event
- Who to contact about logistical information
- Ensure female images are included on all promotional/marketing material
Another point to note is to ensure all communication regarding coach development reaches female coaches. At times the historical set up of sport has meant that coaches of female teams/athletes, and/or female coaches, sometimes simply do not receive the information coming from the Governing Body or Local Sports Partnership. Ensure your sport and clubs have appropriate communication and promotional channels in place so that information is spread down through all your members.
Chapter 2: Recruitment Suggested Actions
Host an info webinar for anyone interested in attending coaching courses. Ensure the host is friendly and alleviates any apprehension someone might have about signing up. Provide follow up contact details for someone to ask further questions, which they may have been too shy to do at the info session.
Look at how you advertise coaching courses, have you included enough information that ensures the female coach knows exactly what to expect if attending?
Create a Communication Checklist using the above points when developing marketing material to promote coaching courses/workshops
Commit to contacting all female attendees post-coaching course to follow up on their coaching journey
Women Only vs. Mixed Gender Learning Events
Traditionally, in a lot of sports, more men are coaches than women, therefore the likelihood is that coach development learning events can be attended and delivered mainly by men. Being outnumbered in an environment can be uncomfortable for some people and may impact on their learning experience or completion of the training/session. Monitor your attendees at these learning events and take the time to proactively invite women coaches to
The benefits of male and female coaches learning together can include:
- Sharing different approaches to coaching
- Learning from each other’s own personal experiences
- Reducing the instance of gender-based negative attitudes as relationships can be developed in a neutral environment where everyone is learning together
- Building the visibility and credibility of female coaches
- Developing the networks for female coaches
Female-only learning events can be beneficial but good practice would be to run on request from the women coaches themselves. Running separate events for male and female coaches may only serve to increase the gender gap and exacerbate negative attitudes towards women as coaches. Presuming that women coaches
want separate women-only coaching courses without asking their views could have a negative impact. A blended approach to mixed versus female only events seems to work best.
Many sports provide women-only courses. These are useful as a first step onto the coaching ladder, removing the unease some women have which prevents them joining existing courses. Confidence levels can be enhanced during these courses which may lead to women progressing further on the coaching ladder.
Women-only courses may also be beneficial to ethnic minority groups with cultural differences. Researching and understanding the barriers female coaches face in your sport can help identify where such approaches are relevant.
Chapter 2: Recruitment Personal Action List
Trial a women only workshop/course and gather feedback from participants to support future planning
Put extra measures in place to try to ensure gender balance on mixed gender courses, e.g. targeted promotion to women
Investigate if women don’t enjoy mixed-sex coaching events in your sport. What are the reasons if so? Is it the environment that is created during these events/coaching courses or how they might be treated by fellow attendees?
Co-Coaching and Assistant Coaches
Co-coaching is a way of recruiting women into coaching. Working with another coach may have greater appeal, especially for coaches with time constraints, feeling nervous, or that they are not suitable for the role. Co-coaching, or being an assistant coach, can provide a great opportunity for new coaches to find out what coaching entails and see if it is for them without committing right from the start. Providing a first step into coaching is useful in allowing women to build up their confidence slowly and recognise that they do have the necessary skills.
Organisations should also be aware of challenges co-coaching can present if it burdens the other coach, i.e. they end up mentoring or feeling like they must train the co-coach. It is worth providing guidance to current coaches on how to delegate coaching responsibilities to others, and how to work with other coaches in their group.
Chapter 2: Recruitment Suggested Actions
Put together a ‘Co-coaching Plan’ to share with clubs. This plan can be very simple and outline to clubs the concept of co-coaching, and encourage them to use it with their coaches
Add the term ‘Co-Coaching’ and ‘Assistant Coaches’ to modules or content on your coaching courses so that coaches become familiar with it as an option