Are There Differences in Coaching Males & Females in Sports?

One of the most common questions that people ask me about coaching is: What is the difference between coaching girls and coaching boys in sports?

The answer is not straightforward. When it comes to coaching girls and boys in sports, there are some subtle differences that can impact the way I would approach an athlete or a team, but overall an athlete’s determination and desire to succeed does not appear to different based on one’s gender.

With that said, there are some differences in biological and societal factors between boys and girls but we should not coach girls and boys that differently, in my opinion.

According to Abby Wambach, “Gender should not dictate what you can and cannot do. Women can be just as powerful and skilled in sports as men.”

I totally agree, Abby.

There is some research that suggests that girls may be more inclined to express their emotions than boys, but coaches should create an environment where all athletes feel safe discussing their feelings, if they want to. One thing that I know for sure is that communication between a coach and an athlete is just important on the boys side as it is on the girl side.

Gender stereotypes definitely play a role in sports. Girls may be raised to be “less competitive” than boys in some environments but coaches should challenge these stereotypes and create an atmosphere that promotes hard work, and a competitive spirit amongst all athletes.

In terms of skill development and confidence-building, girls may benefit from coaches who take a more gentle approach to criticism, but my experience has been that most athletes I have worked with (more than 500 athletes) prefer direct feedback that includes some positive reinforcement.

One thing that I know for sure is that athletes want to trust their coaches.  It is a very important relationship.  Coaches need to build trust with their female and male athletes before they can pass along negative feedback or criticism.

So this may not answer the questions about the difference between coaching boys and girls, but in my experience, the differences are so subtle and really do vary between individual athletes regardless of their gender.

As long as a coach is caring, committed and compassionate, an athlete will give the coach more than they take back. I can guarantee that.

“The men can learn something from us, and we can learn something from the men. Both sexes have qualities to offer, and the sport will be even better when we are finally working together in equal partnership” – Billie Jean King.

linda smiling<br />

Written by Linda Martindale

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