Guest Blog: Ignite Your Coaching – Leadership Day

About the blog and the author: During 2016, British Cycling Coaching and Education piloted an approach to support women cycling coaches based around a mentoring programme, delivered in partnership with Women Ahead and with support from UK Coaching (formerly Sports Coach UK). Following a review of the first year, in which BC Coaching and Education was supported by Leanne Norman at Leeds Beckett University, a further cohort of women were recruited for the Ignite Programme in March 2017.

On 6 May existing coaches and mentors, and the new cohort came together for a ‘Leadership Day’ to launch activity for 2017. The day was facilitated by Nicola Waterworth of Happen Together CIC, who in this guest blog for Reach, reflects on what the ambitions are for the programme and what was learnt from the ‘Leadership Day’.


In recent years British Cycling have made good progress in recruiting more women into the voluntary and paid coaching workforce.  However, women continue to form only one-fifth of the coaching workforce, and are significantly under-represented in senior coaching roles. The women’s coaching workforce is also lacking in wider diversity, in terms of age, race and disability for example.

The Ignite programme is designed to encourage more women to enter, remain and progress in coaching roles within cycling.  Our research and work to date has suggested that women wanted to feel part of a purposeful, valued and supportive community of cycling coaches able to help them progress in their coaching, and enable them to offer help to others. Alongside coaching and cycling continuous professional development opportunities, women want to develop skills in collaborating, networking, influencing and marketing – e.g. a range of skills that support them in being ‘leaders’ in the cycling community as well as coaches.

The 2017 programme was open to coaches all over the country, who held an existing Level 1 coaching qualification.  As in 2016 all coaches could apply to be either mentors or to have a mentor allocated. Applications for mentor positions were open to men and a number applied to offer their skills in the programme.  In addition to this, we now offer other opportunities for the community to connect alongside the formal mentor programme.  The purpose of the ‘Leadership Day’ was to launch the 2017 programme, and ensure that British Cycling were developing the programme with the women benefiting from it; supporting those on the programme to:

What we did on the day

25 participants were able to attend this initial ‘Leadership Day’ in Birmingham and engaged in a packed and energetic agenda, which included:

Outcomes of the Day

Feedback on the day was gathered verbally at the end of the session and through feedback forms.  Almost without exception when asked what most was appreciated about the day, all attendees said it was the ‘opportunity to simply meet with other coaches, particularly women, and share our experiences’.  Mostly followed by a wish that there was more time for conversations and creating connections.

In addition to this:

Some vox pops from the session, highlight the experience some of the coaches had:

“Knowing there are many wonderful women coaching or promoting women’s/ girls cycling.”

“Meeting other female coaches; would like to have spoken to more people.”

“Loved the simple reminder to play.”

“The day was put together in a really clever and fun way. It was fun and snappy throughout and wasn’t dominated by anyone one person.”

“Seeing the women, in attendance realising that they’re role models too.”

From the outset we set out what kind of experience we’d like to have if we were our best selves. And how we needed to behave in order to make that happen.  By the end of the day we agreed we had achieved this – and that these behaviours and commitments would be important to take into developing our coaching community. Here are some examples:

What will it be like if we are at our best… To be like this we need to have…
  • Relaxed
  • Fun
  • Chatty
  • No question too daft
  • Informative
  • Open
  • Encouraging
  • Creative
  • Connection – commonality & difference
  • Empowering
  • Affirming
  • Motivating
  • Committed
  • Ignited
  • Inspiring
  • Team work
  • Engage
  • Enthusiasm
  • Respect each other
  • Confidence
  • Communicate
  • Open mind
  • Be vulnerable
  • Tolerant of others opinions
  • Create opportunities
  • Supportive
  • Understanding
  • Honesty
  • Misery is optional

Making our Ignite Community a Success

At the end of the day we talked about what we needed to do as individuals, as a community and what we needed from British Cycling in order to make supporting women coaches a success.  We talked about commitment to the community and agreed for it to be success we needed to:

From British Cycling to support the Ignite programme attendees requested they:

Next steps

We are already now connected as coaches on the programme through a Facebook group where we can share experiences, questions, ask for support and have discussions.  Based on the feedback received at the event, BC Coaching and Education will now develop a further programme of opportunities for coaches to come together to share and learn – through the formal mentor structure, online CPD discussions – topic/ discipline specific, and other tools to support goal orientated conversations.  Further opportunities will also be developed to build the strength in our community and its relationships face-to-face.

Nicola Waterworth, Independent Facilitator and Level 2 Cycling Coach

Follow: @nicwaterworth