The following practice paper introduces an innovative women-only training program for coach developers in a Canadian provincial sport organization. The dearth of women in coaching and sport leadership positions informs the program as a whole and the participant perspectives on what is working, in practice, for them specifically in a way that could support future sport leaders interested in increasing gender equity in their sport organizations and leadership skills in their female leaders. The aims of the coach developer program are two-fold: to promote women in leadership and to create a social learning space for women to connect and support each other in their leadership development. The purpose of this practice paper is to discuss the supports that have enabled the facilitation of this program and to explore the value of a women-only training program. Two women (out of a total of 10) participating in the program and two leads facilitating the program were interviewed for their perspectives. The lessons learned touch on the types of value that were created (immediate, potential, and applied) and the specific supports (micro, meso, and macro) that enabled the facilitation of the program. Finally, the authors discuss additional considerations (e.g., consistent buy-in from the organization is needed) with practical insights in the hopes of inspiring other sport organizations to implement similar initiatives for promoting women in leadership and coaching in sport.
Exploring a Women-Only Training Program for Coach Developers
Erin Kraft, Diane M. Culver, and Cari Din
The Alberta Women in Sport Leadership Project: A Social Learning Intervention for Gender Equity and Leadership Development
Diane M. Culver, Erin Kraft, Cari Din, and Isabelle Cayer
This best practice paper describes a Canadian intervention to address the lack of women in sport coaching and leadership roles. While the number of female athletes has increased over the last decades, the opposite is true of female head coaches, both nationally and internationally. The issues influencing this trend are mostly institutional and societal. There is a lack of support systems in place for females attempting to become involved (recruitment) and maintain their involvement (retention) in coaching. The Alberta Women in Sport Leadership Impact Program (AWiSL) takes a community of practice approach to increase gender equity and leadership diversity in Alberta sport organizations. The AWiSL began in October 2017 and continues until early 2020. There are currently 6 mentors and 12 sport leaders from Alberta sport organizations, who engage in monthly meetings to learn and participate in the co-creation of knowledge to meet the project outcomes, which include the planning and implementation of initiatives for their individual sport organizations, all in the service of supporting gender equity. Descriptions of specific activities thus far are presented as well as information about the how to of conducting such an intervention. Various challenges and lessons are discussed. The description of the AWiSL and ongoing program evaluation aims to support other organizations seeking an example of an initiative to create equitable coaching and leadership opportunities, and to create change.
Social Supports and Barriers for Older Adults Not Participating in Group Physical Activity
Lindsay Morrison, Meghan H. McDonough, Jennifer Hewson, Ann Toohey, Cari Din, and Sarah J. Kenny
Group physical activity can provide physical and social benefits; however, social barriers or a lack of social support may affect participation. This study examined social-support needs and barriers among older adults who were not participating in group physical activities. Using interpretive description, semistructured interviews were conducted with 38 older adults (M = 70.9 years; 81.6% women). Themes were grouped into two categories. Category 1, expectations and initial impressions, consisted of the following: (a) Groups cannot meet everyone’s expectations or interests, (b) groups are intimidating to join, and (c) the need for inclusive programming. Category 2, social processes within group physical activity, consisted of (a) modeling physical activity behaviors, (b) sharing information and suggestions about physical activity opportunities, and (c) encouragement and genuine interest. Outreach to this population should aim to address these barriers and utilize these supportive behaviors to reduce feelings of intimidation and promote participation among older adults.
Instructor Social Support in the Group Physical Activity Context: Older Participants’ Perspectives
Lindsay Morrison, Meghan H. McDonough, Chantelle Zimmer, Cari Din, Jennifer Hewson, Ann Toohey, Peter R.E. Crocker, and Erica V. Bennett
Instructors in organized physical activity classes can be a source of social support through their relationships with participants, influence on participants’ interactions with each other, and design of activities. Grounded in interpretive description, the objective of this study was to examine older adults’ experiences of and their perspectives on group physical activity instructors’ supportive behaviors. Observations of 16 group physical activity classes (N = 295) and focus groups or interviews with N = 38 class participants aged ≥ 55 (n = 29 women) were conducted at four municipal recreation facilities in a Canadian city. Five themes shed light on how instructors provided social support: (a) supporting autonomous engagement, (b) developing caring connections, (c) fostering trust through expert instruction, (d) managing conflict directly and effectively, and (e) creating a climate where people want to go. Instructor training should consider older adults’ social support needs and help instructors embody behaviors that support continued physical activity participation, thereby contributing to healthy aging.
Experiences With Social Participation in Group Physical Activity Programs for Older Adults
Chantelle Zimmer, Meghan H. McDonough, Jennifer Hewson, Ann Toohey, Cari Din, Peter R.E. Crocker, and Erica V. Bennett
Little is known about how social participation can be facilitated among older adults in group physical activity and its psychosocial benefits that contribute to successful aging. This study aimed to understand older adults’ experiences with social participation in group physical activity programs. Using interpretive description methodology, 16 observations, eight focus groups, and two interviews with participants unable to attend focus groups were conducted with adults 55 years and older attending programs across four recreation facilities. Group programs were found to influence social participation through (a) a meaningful context for connecting and (b) instructors’ expectations of social interaction. Social participation in these programs addressed psychosocial needs by (c) increasing social contact and interaction, (d) fostering social relationships and belonging, and (e) promoting regular engagement. Training for instructors should include balancing the physical aspects of program delivery with the social, while also considering older adults’ diverse needs and preferences for social interaction.