Women's Sport Week: How to bridge coaching's gender divide

Media playback is not supported on this device

Mums' Team: inspiring Yorkshire mums to get into coaching

Only 30% of sports coaches in the UK are female, according to a study by national agency UK Coaching.

The reasons for that imbalance are widespread and UK Coaching is keen to stress the many social and health benefits offered by coaching beyond the development of elite sporting talent.

There are many ways to get involved, so as part of Women's Sport Week, we've looked at some examples of women from across the sporting spectrum and their efforts in helping to close the gender divide in coaching.

Danielle Guy - from couch to coach

Let's Run Girls founder Danielle Guy leads a stretching session
Let's Run Girls founder Danielle Guy leads a stretching session

Four years ago, Danielle Guy had never done any running. Now the 24-year-old from Cambridge leads a local running group, with more than 50 members attending at least once a week. How did that happen?

"I never had the fitness or stamina to enjoy running, but I had heard about the NHS Couch to 5K programme and in the new year of 2013, after too many chocolates, I was determined to complete it," she recalls.

She was bitten by the running bug - "it was so incredibly rewarding to see myself go further week after week" - stepped up from 5k to 10k, then half marathon and ended up running the 2015 London Marathon.

Wanting to share her positive experience, Danielle qualified as a Leader in Running Fitness (LiRF) with England Athletics and started Let's Run Girls, a mixed-ability running group with weekly sessions varying from walk-run to steady 5k, circuits and sprints.

And it's not just to encourage others that the group has been useful. Danielle cites her new-found responsibilities as great self-motivation.

"There's very little chance I would head out on my own for a run at 7.30pm on a cold, dark winter's evening," she admits. "But knowing there is a group there waiting for you makes it an easy decision. I feel part of a really great community of like-minded women who never fail to surprise and impress me."

Read more about Danielle and other inspirational coaching stories, here.

Lydia Greenway - new test for Ashes winner

Lydia Greenway takes a fielding session
Lydia Greenway takes a fielding session

Cricketer Lydia Greenway enjoyed a stellar career with England - winning five Ashes series and two World Cups - before retiring in 2016.

Now, the 31-year-old has embarked on a new challenge - Cricket for Girls - marshalling the expertise of former team-mates and current players to deliver coaching sessions at schools and cricket clubs around the country.

She recalls how important mentoring was for her at an early age: "Looking back, if it wasn't for my family, I may not have played cricket," she says.

"At the time, it wasn't a sport that was readily available for girls in schools, and our club was one of a few who helped build a women's team and embraced a girl playing in a boys' team. My dad was my role model because at the time I didn't even know there was an England Women's cricket team!"

Even today, research from cricket charity Chance to Shine shows that a third of girls aged 8-16 in England and Wales say they have no opportunity to play cricket in school, and Lydia has quickly come to realise how important it is to offer female mentoring across the range of ages and abilities.

"Female role models help break down the barrier and perception that cricket is a boys' game." she says. "Cricket for Girls aims to allow every single girl who wants to play cricket the opportunity to do so, as well as providing those girls who already play with high-quality and expert coaching."

Find out more about Cricket For Girls' wide variety of coaching sessions and how you can involved, here.

Jane Lomax - the coaches' coach

England Netball's Jane Lomax stresses the benefits to participant and the coaches themselves
England Netball's Jane Lomax stresses the benefits to participant and the coaches themselves

While Lydia is just starting out on her journey as a coach, Jane Lomax has the years of experience that make her an invaluable advocate for women's coaching.

Over the years, Jane - a coaching tutor and assessor for England Netball - has empowered countless women to take on netball coaching roles and continue their learning, building self-esteem and confidence.

"Research tells us it is the rapport that coaches have with their performers that is one of the most important influences on participation and at the root of that is communication," she says. "'Softer skills' are paramount - women are often very strong on softer skills so can make very successful, positive coaches."

And as much as these positive effects filter through to participants, it is the benefits to the coaches themselves that Jane is particularly keen to stress.

"I have seen many coaches whose confidence is low and who can be very self-critical," she explains. "But once they start to realise that others have a very different perception of them they can really start to grow.

"So there are social and emotional benefits available for coaches. This can be really helpful when returning from gaps in careers due to being a mum. One of the most delightful parts of working with coaches is to witness the growth of self-confidence women can experience."

Visit England Netball to find out more about Jane's work and coaching opportunities.

Still looking for inspiration? If you want to get involved in coaching, check out our Get Inspired guide.