It’s no secret that female-athletes are different in male-athletes. I’m not saying they are less talented or capable – absolutely not! But the way they should be coached should be different because we are not wired the same. I wanted to share tips on coaching female-athletes so that together we can continue to encourage them to be strong, resilient, and empowered through sport.
- Watch what you say:
Be careful what you say regarding their bodies, making mistakes, and providing criticism. Praise in public, criticize in private to avoid embarrassing and humiliating your athletes. Also, do not degrade them with terms such as, “You run like a girl.” Are they a girl? Yes. Are they running? Yes, and they probably are running faster than you! Their gender does not matter in regards to how they perform.
2) Get to know them outside of their sport:
Your athletes are more than athletes. They might also be a sister, a musician, an artist, or a damn good euchre player. Learn about who they are outside of the sport. Females seek out connection and it will do wonders to your coach-athlete relationship if you take the time to connect with them.
3) Practice how you want them to play:
Sometimes female-athletes need to be challenged and expected to practice as they would compete. Especially with younger females, do not think that you need to go “easy” on them. Obviously, don’t run them into the ground but you can make practices fun AND competitive.
4) Allow them to be social:
Girls like to talk and be social. I guarantee you they are going to talk, so instead of fighting against it, let it happen. Allow a chunk of time before practice to chat, or tell them that their warm-up run is their social time. Or allow them to socialize between drills and during water breaks. They’re going to socialize, so you might as well build it into the practice. Just make sure they understand that there is a time and place for it.
5) Females wear their emotions on their sleeve:
Females can be emotional and sensitive creatures and there’s nothing wrong with that! Understand this and accept it. Instead of becoming upset and yelling at them to “suck it up,” take an empathic approach. Being able to understand and express your emotions is a strength, not a weakness. Also, teach them how to best handle emotions through emotional regulation techniques such as deep breathing, self-talk, and mistake routine rituals. You are their coach and you are teaching them more about the sport, you are teaching them about life.
The courage, strength, and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls need to become the confident leaders of tomorrow. Keep fighting to make sure all women and girls have the opportunity to play!