On Sunday December 9th, in Milton, Ontario, 19 female coaches gathered together to kick off the 2018 Women’s Coaching Conference supported by the Coaches Association of Ontario. The day began with Molly Hurford running an engaging presentation on Nutrition, Training & The Uncomfortable Topics – why we need to talk about them. During this session, attendees learned about how to deal with saddle fitting problems, talking to new athletes about riding with their underwear on, how to properly wash your cycling shorts along with other “uncomfortable” topic. The room was vibrant with support, comradery and shared experiences as laughter lit up the room. Molly is the host of her own podcast “The Consummate Athlete” where she addresses issues like these and many more on a regular basis.
Next up was Olympian High Jumper, 8-time Canadian Champion, Commonwealth Gold Medalist and Mental Performance Consultant Dr. Nicole Forrester, with a talk on using Mental Skills Training in your Periodization Plan. The group participated in activities on goal setting, imagery, activation and positive self-talk which is directly applicable when working with both new and experienced athletes. It became apparent during the presentation that there was interest in addressing body image issues among athletes regarding positive self-talk, and over 30 minutes was spent on a group discussion on how to properly address these issues with athletes.
The afternoon started with the heavier topic of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) with a presentation by Sport Nutritionist and Triathlon Coach – Sheryl Ross. Sheryl addressed the topic of RED-S while focusing on the signs, symptoms and how to address getting a diagnosis and treatment plan. Coaches were surprised to learn about how common this ailment is and the conversation moved yet again towards body-image self-talk as well as the coveted “power-to-weight ratio” focus held by most developing and professional athletes. The coaches came away with a healthy supply of conversation starters and ideas about how to address these issues with their own athletes.
The final presentation of the day was hosted by former Canadian Cycling Team Member and Ontario Cycling Projects Coach, Julia Farell. Her lively presentation focused on Coaching Drive, Athletic Drive and Project Development where coaches took a moment to not only figure out how to motivate athletes but also how to find their own focus and motivation in order to be a great coach. Issues such as maximizing female performance during training camps were addressed and the room had a wealth of experiences to aid discussion on training camp experiences involving burnout and sickness and suggestions about how to prevent these in future camps.
Attendees ranged in age and coaching experience including full-time coaches, parents, volunteers, and active athletes. Six of the participants were under the age of 23, a great sign for building the next generation of female cycling leaders. The 2018 Women’s Coaching Conference was a huge success in bringing together female coaches across the province to learn and share best practices. We look forward to continuing to build from this conference and plan more coach professional development opportunities in 2019.