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Professional development is moving into the forefront for coaches in Canada. While the courses offered through the Coaches Association of Canada are a great starting point, ROWONTARIO wanted to find ways to bring transformative ideas to our coaches outside of the established coach training. Building on the concept of seminars offered at conferences, we began to think about different avenues to offer professional development opportunities to coaches during the off-season. How could we offer our coaches opportunities to think about and transform their experiences as coaches without asking them to travel to a conference?

Considering this question, the main focus of our endeavor to create new professional development opportunities needed to be how to create the greatest access to opportunities without the barrier of travel. When we look at the current means of communicating with coaches, we depend greatly on the internet. ROWONTARIO uses email, social media, and its website to speak to coaches and clubs. Why not use the internet to create professional development opportunities? Hosting online seminars allowed for many coaches across Ontario to attend a seminar without travelling to a conference. What a great idea!

This spring, ROWONTARIO made its initial foray into the exciting world of online professional development with a six-part webinar series. These online sessions gave participants a unique opportunity to speak with expert coaches and professionals from the comfort of their homes. The six-part webinar series focus on a variety of topics related to rowing. We had Evan Lewis, PhD (C), speak about the basic of nutrition, hydration, and weight management and were joined by physiotherapist and rowing coach, Lynda Dundas, for a discussion on common rowing injuries and prevention.

The remaining webinars made high performance coaching topics accessible for use at the club level. Daniel Bechard, PhD, of the Western Mustangs, spoke to the technology available, its best uses, and its future in rowing. We were also joined by Amanda Schweinbenz, PhD, of the Laurentian Voyageurs, as she discussed the implementation of talent development skills used in the Row to Podium program. Schweinbenz focused on introducing these concepts within the Sudbury Rowing Club.

ROWONTARIO partnered with Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) to bring techniques used at the national level to our local coaches. Peter Shakespear, the Director of National Talent Identification and Development Programs, introduced his work internationally in talent identification and discussed why this program is important to rowing in Canada. Building on the previous concepts of talent identification and talent development, Phil Marshall, National Training Centre Coach, introduced coaches to individualizing training plans geared towards the athlete’s LTAD stage.

With 58 coaches participating in the six-part webinar series, ROWONTARIO is looking forward to bringing more web-based professional development options to our coaches. Building on this initial success, ROWONTARIO will look to host a second webinar series in the fall of 2015.

We would love to hear your thoughts for our future webinars!