On acceptance, settling & the future of female coaches
(Well, that title is a bit of a mouth full…)
Last night, I stayed up way past my bed time to watch the London WCS race live on CBC. It started after 12:30am (BC time), and I did not go to sleep until close to 3am. It was worth staying up.
I believe that to be the best, you need to learn from the best. It does not mean you need to follow blindly and do everything they do. After all, what works for one may not for another. I do mean that you need to observe, follow, ask and be open to all perspectives. Be flexible and learn to apply things in a way that works for you (or in my case, my athletes). In other words, use common sense!
During the first 5 minutes of the race coverage from London, a few athletes were mentioned by the commentators, all of which are coached by their husband/boyfriend. It kind of made me wonder, so I did a quick count based on my knowledge of who some athletes are coached by. I counted at least 6 girls, getting coached by their partners, but only 1 guy. So I twitted this line:
“Seems like lots of girls are coached by their husband/boyfriend. Doesn’t seem to happen the other way around as often. Wondering why?! Hmm”.
I got a few replies, one of them totally getting it (not a big surprise, since he ‘gets it’ in general) and another one insisting that it is because there are more male athletes racing compared with female athletes. While I would be completely blind not to notice that there are more male athletes compared with female at local races, Ironman races, etc, I was very specifically referring to ITU elite racing. A quick glance at the London WCS race start lists tells me that are 67 male athletes and (low and behold!) 67 female athletes entered. That looks like equal numbers to me…
Lets set aside the whole ‘getting coached by your partner thing’, OK? I have no issues with that and no preference either way. I do not coach my partner, but I do work with him on other areas of his performance, like nutrition. I know this kind of relationship works for some – we have seen a great example of it in London with Helen Jenkins taking the win (coached by her husband, 2x Olympian Marc Jenkins).
The thing is, there are significantly more male coaches than female coaches, especially at the high performance level. I refuse to accept that it is a result of the fact that there are more male triathletes compared with female triathletes. I’m sure it is a part of the issue, but surely there are other factors involved? Accepting that it is just the way it is doesn’t sit well with me, because I believe it is something that can and should be changed.
I am going to borrow a page from Paulo’s The Triathlon Book and send you to read his blog post on settling. Although it is aimed towards athletes, it can be easily applied to coaches too. Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers to how the sport of triathlon (or any other sport, for that matter) can have more female coaches. All I know is that I do not plan on settling and will always strive to be a better coach. If you have any suggestions on how I can do that, I am more than happy to hear from you.
In local news, the Sooke triathlon is on tomorrow… Our team has 10 athletes entered and I can’t wait to see them race!