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Article from Coaching Edge Winter 2012: Can Change Pay
If something is said enough times, it starts to become ’fact’. When it comes to coaching female sport, many of these facts are based on stereotypes and things our colleagues have told us over the years. After all, every athlete and player we work with is an individual with their own traits and idiosyncrasies. Should we, as coaches, make assumptions based on the gender of the athlete we are working with?
However, some generalisations can be drawn upon by those working with female athletes to assist them in getting the best out of the individual and the relationship. We have chosen three of the most common assumptions made about female athletes and consider whether they are based in fact or hearsay.
Women are more difficult to coach X
Women are often more open to being coached and new ways of doing things, especially if it will help them perform better.
Female athletes also have a tendency to give coaches more initial respect and are more open in expressing their appreciation for good coaching. Women and girls generally have a strong desire to please the coach and give their best efforts for others as much as for themselves.
Women communicate differently X
There is some truth in this, but it shouldn’t make women more difficult to coach; in fact, quite the opposite. Women are more likely to open up and share their concerns or problems, which can actually be a beneficial trait if these issues are preventing focus on training or competition.
Listening and being listened to are also qualities that are valued by women. Female athletes will often be more likely to ask questions of the training programme or methods. This is not because they disagree with what is being asked of them, but because they want to better understand what is required and establish a rapport with the coach via two-way dialogue.
Female athletes lack confidence X
Low confidence is often more pronounced in female athletes. Women tend not to give themselves enough credit and are likely to put good performances and success down to luck rather than talent and hard work. Women’s confidence levels are also influenced far more by the opinions of those around them.
Female athletes might reflect their concerns both verbally and through their body language. Coaches can use this as an indicator that their athletes need ’a boost’ and some words of encouragement to help build their confidence.
UK Coaching (formerly sports coach UK) recognises that this information is a generalisation as all people are individuals and it is for you, the coach, to contextualise the following information to your own coaching environment.
Share your experiences of coaching women and girls in this conversation or use the search engine to find more helpful content about coaching women.
I would agree with all three points raised above from my experience with coaching women. The girls I am lucky enough to work with are like sponges when it comes to taking in new information - they actively seek it out. I believe that their 'openness' with coaches is a huge positive and has certainly raised my aspirations and hopes for the group.
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