Providing and Promoting Support Networks
An overriding finding from the Sport Ireland Women in Coaching report was the need to better develop coaching networks. Whilst 70% of active female coaches who responded to the survey identified that they had an effective coaching network to assist them, of those who did not, 86% indicated they would like one.
58% of active female coaches indicated that they would like to observe other coaches in their sport and felt that not being part of a coaching network hampered their advancement opportunities.
The coaches identified the following as benefits of a coaching network:
- Offers support to coaches and enable shared learning.
- Helpful for new female coaches or mentors in enabling them to build and develop positive relationships with others who have key experience and expertise.
- Elite level female coaches described how they can feel isolated in their development and would benefit from a network of similar coaches for support and learning.
Access to Coaching Groups/Networks
Coaches benefit greatly from having support networks around them. Women value having access to support; this can either be one to one or in a group environment, within their own sport, or with other sports. Ways to develop women could be through access to online (or in-person) coaching groups or networks, conferences, forums, mentoring, shadowing, co-coaching and direct contact by the NGB or club. These can be mixed gender
but the feedback suggests that female only networks yield a greater sense of support without judgement.
Female coaches believe they can open up more, discuss coaching challenges and provide information to one another more comfortably when it is a female only group. However, that doesn’t mean they should be restricted from mixed gender networks or events. A combination seems to be the best approach.
Who benefits from a coaching network?
- Coaches from targeted leagues/competitions.
- Coaching networks and support structures in clubs, whereby the club coaches support and learn from one another.
- Anyone which is part of a coaching network benefits from a sense of support from their sport or organisation who set up and invited them into the network.
- High Performance Coaches (or those earmarked to progress).
- Coaches from different sports who get the chance to network together
Chapter 3: Developing Coaches Suggested Actions
Write a set of guidelines for clubs encouraging them to try and establish mentoring between their experienced coaches and others.
Establish a women in coaching mentoring programme in your sport. Coaches can nominate themselves via an application form. The sport provides opportunities for all coaches to meet and learn while also pairing them with a mentor.
Collaborate with other sports to create joint mentoring programmes.
For those who are just starting their coaching journey – prior to any course starting, appoint a mentor to work with a small group of interested women, doing some pre-course work and mentoring the whole group, before, during and after the actual course. This is cost effective and has
the added benefit of starting to develop a peer mentoring group which can transition into a wider network for the female coaches.
Coaches with potential to progress to the next level or who are aiming to coach at HP level, will benefit enormously from having a mentor for a period of time.