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Every member benefits from having ConnectedCoaches in their corner

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Emma Tomlinson is one of ConnectedCoaches’ biggest fans. She credits the thriving online community for helping her coaching ‘come on in leaps and bounds’ since becoming one of the venture’s first members. So, as we celebrate our first birthday, it would be remiss not to ask her to explain in more detail why she and ConnectedCoaches are such a perfect fit.

Nobody puts Emma in the corner.

She will not be ignored and will not be made to feel undervalued.

When she found herself at a crossroads at the onset of her coaching career, the choice facing her was to sit idly by and continue in her role of first-aider in a male-oriented club or pluck up the courage to make her voice heard and get noticed.

She chose the latter, and decided there and then that, at defining junctures in your life, there is no point waiting for a Patrick Swayze moment – you must face your fears, not expect to be rescued from the shadows.

Emma says that, through using ConnectedCoaches, she has been able to add confidence to her courage. Becoming a member of the online community has given her the voice she so desperately wanted to allow her career as a coach to blossom.

She says she can relate to the main female character, Baby Houseman, in the film Dirty Dancing.

The metaphorical significance of the famous line ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’ resounds with her.

‘I have spent many years coaching, always being that female coach – the only female coach in the club that wasn’t taken seriously,’ she says.

‘You’ve watched the film Dirty Dancing; that’s me in the corner. I didn’t have much confidence. I felt unappreciated as a coach, although I had parents and athletes always giving me great feedback.

‘All I wanted to do was share my excitement of coaching, gaming ideas and drive to produce great athletes. With ConnectedCoaches I feel I have been given that outlet, somewhere to share ideas as well as give advice and receive feedback.

‘After always feeling I was pushed to one side, ConnectedCoaches has helped me overcome the fear that went with being a female coach and to put myself out there and still coach 100% without feeling I'm a small coach. I’m going to say "small coach" because that’s exactly how it made me feel, like I wasn’t good enough to be a coach.’

Multi-skilled coach

Working in athletics has been Emma’s lifelong ambition.

She has eight years’ voluntary coaching under her belt and has passed her Level 3 qualification.

She is also a Level 2 basketball and Multi-skills coach, and has worked in a paid capacity as a multi-sports coach in schools throughout Nottinghamshire and as a basketball coach working with Mansfield Giants, coaching 4 to 11 year olds.

This year she has added another string to her bow, coaching disability athletics at Berry Hill Sports facilities in Mansfield on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

‘I only coach two athletes but I enjoy that side of it as you are able to concentrate more time and effort on each athlete and get them to where they want to be,’ she says.

She has teamed up with UK Athletics Throws Coach Phil Peat, a coaching member of Team GB at the London 2012 Paralympics and this September’s Rio 2016 Paralympics.

‘I absolutely love it, and it would be great to see more people get involved with disability athletics,’ says Emma. 

‘Phil is an absolutely amazing guy. He’s taught me a lot over the last year with regards to throwing. He gives me lots and lots of advice, which I take away 100% of the time. I always make sure I text him after every single session and say “thank you very much”.’

Making conversation

For Emma, ConnectedCoaches is an integral part of her coaching tool kit.

An avid reader of the diverse array of blogs and conversation threads in her activity stream, she is just as keen to actively engage with members when she latches on to a post or topic that particularly piques her interest.

She recalls a conversation she started a few weeks ago headlined ‘Pen to paper: Preparing, Planning, Performance’ on the back of witnessing an unplanned session from a coach.

‘I’d like to think that if I was going to attend a session myself, it was a session that was planned.

'Even though you can reel some things off your head and not have it down on paper, I still feel you need to know 100% of the time exactly what you are going to demonstrate to the athletes. I wanted to find out how many coaches do still forward plan, because I think there are still quite a few who don't.’

And Emma recalled one blog that left an impression on her.

'It was a blog on how to deliver fun sessions. I added my little bit because I feel that making sessions fun, whatever age you are – adult or child – is the secret to getting more people participating and wanting to turn up.

‘It forms an important part of my philosophy, which is to not be afraid, be your own coach and don't let anyone take that away from you. Make sessions fun and enjoyable, and be a relaxed coach.’

Practical advice

Emma urges members not to be shy in coming forward and to participate by leaving comments and starting conversations of their own.

Immersing herself in every aspect of ConnectedCoaches has, by her own admission, ‘brought me on in leaps and bounds’.

‘I always try and find something interesting, or sometimes a bit crazy, to talk about – not always to everyone’s taste but in the hope that others will respond with more ideas and get a good discussion going.

'I would 100% say to any coach, and to any female coach especially, if you want advice, please go onto ConnectedCoaches, because it's been amazing. All the information that I've been given, from all the coaches on the site, I've been able to use within my sessions.’

And, as endorsements go, you can’t get much better than that.

How has being a member of ConnectedCoaches helped you? Please let us know by leaving a comment.

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