Women in Coaching and the Start of Something Great

Last week I visited friend and super coach Kate Offord in Manchester to do an interview with her about confidence and women in coaching.  I will be capturing such discussions to use as the openers for a series of Great Conversations that coaches who become members of Confidence Centred Coaching can join in, sharing their experiences and insights.


For now, what a rich and thought provoking opening conversation we had.

Kate is the Head Coach at Manchester Tri Club, one of the biggest and most prestigious tri clubs in the UK, and Deputy Head Coach at Altrincham Swim Club.  She is also a tutor on the British Triathlon Federation’s (BTF) education programme for Level 1 and 2 coaches.  She also set up and runs her own private coaching business, Smiling Tri Coach.  Such is the demand for her coaching that she recently expanded Smiling Tri Coach to take on another coach.

I was very keen to talk through and find out more about Kate’s views and experience of women’s confidence in coaching: what have been key turning points or milestones in her own journey of confidence as a rapidly progressing coach?  What are some of the confidence issues for women getting into coaching or making a step up that she sees in the BTF courses she runs?  What will help more women develop their confidence as coaches and thereby support and inspire others?

To engage in this Great Conversation and offer your own reflections you’ll need to sign up to become a member of Confidence Centred Coaching.  As a taster, here are a few reflections of my own.

One of the things that struck me from our conversation was that many women, who have had successful business or other careers and have taken a break to have children, come into coaching with low confidence levels and full of self-doubt - even though their past experiences and expertise make them more than well suited to coaching.  Kate talked about having spent time being defined as a mum and wife.  Even though she had been a swim coach and held a high powered job before, there seemed to be a sense of starting anew, of needing permission to re-enter the coaching space.

Kate talks in the interview about the challenge for aspiring women coaches to be true to themselves and find their own voice and space, breaking the mould of more male orientated coaching and sport.  She highlighted out how much of the triathlon coaching world assumes and reflects alpha male imagery.  One can see this in the way many coaches present themselves on their sites or appear in magazines, listing their hard won athletic achievements and credentials, arms folded in manly poses.  Take a look at how different and engaging Kate’s Smiling Tri Coach site is (and, I like to think, my own ZigZag Alive site).

Other themes included strategies for women to claim the coaching space in ways that are true to themselves. The key role played by supporters and mentors came out - including her Mum.  We also touched on some of the institutional issues - for example the fact that so many courses are run with a completely disproportionate number of men to women participants.  More positively there seem to be increasing numbers of women tutors.

The new Confidence Centred Coaching site will be live in the coming weeks, the interview with Kate kick starting the first Great Conversation.  If you’re a coach and interested in sharing and learning great coaching practice focused on confidence be ready to sign up and join in.

In the meantime, a very heartfelt thanks to Kate for sharing her experience and lessons from her exciting journey in coaching so far.