Develop and Support

Developing Coaches

In order to retain women in coaching, organisations need to ensure they develop them. Chapter 3 of this toolkit discusses this point in detail and so readers should refer to that chapter for tips and guidelines that can support their actions for retaining coaches in sport

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 enables shared learning.
  • Helpful for new coaches or mentors in enabling them to build and develop positive relationships with others who have key experience and expertise.
  • Elite level women 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’s Sports Foundation, 2019). 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 women 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. Anyone who 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.

Who benefits from a coaching network?

  • Coaches from targeted leagues/competition.
  • Coaching networks in clubs (support structure too), whereby the club coaches support and learn from one another.
  • High Performance Coaches (or those earmarked to progress).
  • Coaches from different sports who get the chance to network together.

Chapter 4: Retention Suggested Actions

  • Write a set of guidelines encouraging clubs to establish coaching networks, or opportunities for coaches to connect, network and learn from one another within the club. For example, monthly coaching forums online or in the clubhouse where certain topics are discussed.

  • Establish a coaching network for all female coaches in your sport. For example, this may involve four online forums a year where they hear from a guest speaker. It also means the sport has a contact group when sending out the latest information on coach development and other news.

  • Link up with another sport and establish a joint coaching network. This can provide an opportunity for coaches to be exposed to different ideas and concepts when it comes to coaching. Have you got networking initiatives/opportunties for women in coaching? E.g. An annual conference for coaches? An annual conference/forum for female coaches?

  • Set up a Women in Coaching group on LinkedIn and/or Facebook. Use it as a platform to promote female coaches, share interesting stories, coaching tips/guidelines, coaching books to read, etc.

View your action list