It is that time again – annual August break for Hear Her Sports. It comes a little late this year because we were just too excited about the 3-part mini series on coaching to break it up. So here we are mid-August with the last episode before some time away and #3 in the series. Our guest this week is the absolutely incredible Elana Meyers Taylor talking about a new report on coaching girls, concussions, bobsled training, bobsled as trash can, unbridled confidence, martial arts, and what's happening in women's sports right now from an insider's seat at the Women's Sports Foundation.
I'll say it again, Elana is a super star. She is a 4-time World Champion, 8-time World Championship medalist, 3-time Olympic medalist, and 2015 World Cup Champion. In 2015 Elana became the first woman to earn a spot on the US National Team competing with the men as a 4-man bobsled pilot. She is currently dry land training full speed ahead after recovering from a concussion with aims to win gold in Beijing2022. For a full bio and list of Elana’s accomplishments click here. I feel very lucky to have spent time with her even if only over the phone. I hope you get as much from the conversation as I did.
As part of the coaching series we talk about the new study by WSF and Nike about coaching girls titled, “Coaching Through a Gender Lens: Maximizing Girls’ Play and Potential”.
Girls want to play sports and be competitive.
It’s interesting that this is news, but of course! that’s the case. We’ve heard from several guests about how we as a society still have trouble with the idea that girls and women want to be energetic, active, aggressive, assertive, and plain old rough and tumble. Yup, there’s more work to be done to increase coverage of and opportunity for female athletes.
1. I really enjoyed hearing Elana talk about her hill sprints and hours (&hours) of off-season training. She quickly mentions that once the season starts it’s hard to get in consistent training. To expand a bit, competing athletes live in an ongoing cycle of prep/taper→travel→compete→travel→recover. In season, there are few blocks of time for good solid training that won’t impact performance. Off-season training allows for solid rest, good eating at home, and no competition stress. Athletes often select a few top tier races to be in peak readiness for and train around the others without cutting back (or cutting back less) on training in order to limit fitness and strength losses during their season.
2. Thank you Elana for mentioning the incredibly high percentage of C-suite women who played organized sports in their youth. She thought 90% -- whoa!, that’s high. But wait, it’s really 96%.
3. One of Elana’s greatest stories is of being the pilot on a 4-men (as in male) team, a highlight of her career. As written above she is the first woman to do so. The full section of the episode starts @27:00.
* Elana talks about how her husband’s perception of her abilities (already very high) increased. This is super important. She’s given a chance, other people see her and change their perception of what women are capable of. I’m sure we can transfer this lesson to other places, don’t you think!?
* She talks about the differences in confidence of men and women. (Definitely listen to this – it’s funny. This short bit starts @28:30)
4. Elana’s long term goal is to be the CEO of the US Olympic Committee -- another whoa! Huge goals like this are motivating. Even better is her explanation of why she’s “not one to go after small goals”.
5. Because Elana is the current President of the Women's Sports Foundation, I was able to ask some questions about WSF's role in battles for equity happening now in many sports like hockey, soccer, and basketball. Yes, WSF is helping out in a number of ways -- directly and indirectly. Elana even brings up my personal hero, Billie Jean King.
6. And finally, I just loved editing this episode. Listening to Elana’s voice brought me back to getting started with the podcast and being so aware of the range of voices, tones, cadences, and speaking styles. It was the best possible way to close out before taking a break.
The podcast returns to our regular schedule of motivating episodes with female athletes in mid-September. I am looking forward to some time off and also looking forward to talking to guests scheduled for the fall. Get ready for some motocross!
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