CALM benefiting Women Coaches – Emer O’Dowd

One of our coach leaders who has benefited from the CALM program this year is Emer O’Dowd, a successful player who transitioned across to her coaching career and is now leading the Women’s Rugby Development Program for Connacht Rugby Club. 

The big learns for her from the CALM mentoring program she completed was the importance of creating a player focused learning environment, and the empowering of players to lead their development, and the tool to achieve this is the establishment of the coach athlete relationship which is built on trust and mutual respect.

We asked Emer what were your thoughts after completing the CALM leadership workshops using the NED learning environment? “I really valued the ability to discuss coach leader perspectives with fellow coaches outside my current coaching peer group, from the other side of the world”.  Emer commented that it was eye opening the vast scale of knowledge being shared in the coach leadership workshop, “we need to awaken our brains more in this space”. 

When asked what would she tell a young coach considering the CALM program? “For me CALM got me to reflect over all my coaching thoughts and leadership considerations…the coach has the single greatest influence on the development of a player”, this is a massive weight of responsibility. 

Emer wants to evolve her players and her mantra for player development is “I don’t want to be the last coach of this player”, she wants to progress them to a point where they continue on their rugby journey.

We asked Emer if she could step back in time with the knowledge she has gained from the CALM program, what changes to her coaching practices would she make? “I have been coaching in this professional space now for over 13-years, if I were able to go back to when I first started, I would throw less information overload at my players, and developed a player lead environment, I would have steered the bus from the back seat with the players driving the bus from the front”.  Her take away is Reflect-Rethink / Reboot / Restart.

Emer believed the CALM program could really benefit the female coaches coming through the sport, with bigger picture tools in sport leadership, and the use of reflection to know yourself and how to change yourself to be a better coach leader, and importantly know your players. 


A comment that resonated with her from the CALM workshop that one of the coaches in her discussion group made

“players don’t care how much you know about rugby, they want to know how much you care”.

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