Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation Lynne Tinsley Insight Manager. Introduction. The problem Women’s participation in sport and physical activity has declined over the last four years
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A Nation of Active Women
To increase the fitness, health and well-being of women and girls by making physical activity an integral part of their lives
Give the customer what she wants
Create a society in which being active is attractive
Develop policies to improve leadership,
investment & profile
In pairs or small groups, discuss what you think might be the main motivations women have for participating in sport?
Women are not competitive enough
Women just want to chat to their mates
Female athletes lack confidence, over
analyse and cant take criticism
Women communicate differently
Makes training sessions hard, but fun and varied
Supports the individual as an athlete and as a person
Is committed to the athletes (and teams) goals
Highly qualified and continually learning
The ideal coach
Organised and in control
Provides regular feedback, both constructive and positive
Can be a role model and mentor
Respects and listens to the athlete
Has high expectations of the athlete and challenges them
Thinking back to the original exercise, what do you think the main motivations of women in informal settings might be?
How does this impact on the role of the coach?
To get a ‘buzz’ from taking part (although more so for men than women)
‘Health’ was seen as more important than looks – particularly for older participants
Having a sense of achievement by taking part and seeing improvements
A break from family life or the routine of work
Setting personal objectives of taking up a new hobby or leading a more active
To meet new people in the area or as an activity to take part in with friends
Being part of a club or team
Clubs were often perceived negatively by participants, for example: commitment, achieving and maintaining a high standard of skill, ‘training and fitness’ sessions and competition, as apposed to just ‘taking part’ and playing games.
Commitment (time or money)
Women who had children or those who worked shifts found it difficult to commit to doing exercise regularly because of other obligations. Participants new to sport were also reluctant to invest money in a gym or club membership until they were sure they would play/take part regularly.
Competing in organised competitions
Participants enjoy a level of competition within a session through playing, and trying to win games (badminton and football) or beating their own personal best times or distance (running). However formal or organised competition or tournaments were unappealing.
A team /other people
Participants take part in the sessions for their own enjoyment or to achieve their own goals. It was reassuring to them that if they missed a session they would not let anyone down.
Having your performance judged
This was particularly a concern for entry level or returners, whose goals for playing the sport were about taking part, being fit and active and seeing personal improvement. Judgement from other participants or coaches goes against these goals.
Not everyone coming along to the group is there to try and win the race, that for a lot of people the important thing is that they have actually got off their backsides and got there, which is an achievement in itself
Being shouted at or corrected constantly
Linked to the above. Singling participants out by shouting or correcting them in front of the group was intimidating and off putting. Particularly important for entry level or returners who acknowledge that they may have low levels of skill but simply enjoy taking part.
Young, fit, skilled, and stylish people only
It was important to all participants that the sessions were very inclusive and welcomed people of all ages and ability. Not needing to invest in expensive equipment or kit made sessions appealing.
Throughout the research, the term ‘coach’ was used interchangeably with other names when respondents referred to the person running an informal sport session.
The person organising and running the session
Across all groups, respondents were looking for similar qualities from this person, regardless of what term they were referred to.
This is achieved through:
Participants felt that the coach played a fundamental role in creating the right environment and atmosphere – so displaying the kinds of qualities above is important in retaining people in sessions
Participants are unlikely to return if they have a negative view of the coach
I come back because I like my coach
Coaches should notDos and don'ts for coaches
You’ve got to be really talkative and very clear... And also good at listening too.
(Badminton leader, level 1 experience)
What do you think is the most important feature of a sports club, for women?
Sports clubs are evaluated in terms of the positive environment built by the people at the club, rather than by any other features of the club (its facilities, for example). Coaches play a fundamental role not only in their own relationship with participants, but in creating the right environment for women to participate in.
Women commonly talked about the importance of their relationships with other members – but their relationships with coaches and committee staff at the club were also fundamentally important. Everyone involved with the club contributes to building a positive environment – which was by far the main thing that kept women coming back to their club.
Current members say that their loyalty to the club is driven by the group of people at the club over any other factor. For non-members, the opportunity to participate with ‘like-minded’ women is a key driver.
Lots of friendly like minded women.
[Coaches who are] open, friendly, enthusiastic, competitive, fun.
[Coaches who are] approachable, friendly, encouraging, organised, committed to the team/sport, understanding but touch on his/her players.
Coaches who are friendly and inclusive
[Committee staff] who represent everyone from all parts of a club, old and young.
[Committee staff who] have the wishes of the members in mind.
Sharing examples of best practice…
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