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With the launch of Sport England's This Girl Can campaign (advert below)...
...sports coach UK will be releasing top tips around coaching women and girls on Twitter.
I thought it would be great if ConnectedCoaches members would share their experiences and tips too.
This conversation and its responses will then likely be used in campaigns to benefit the wider coaching community
Look forward to reading your tips!
I love coaching girls! They listen so well and really try to put into practice ideas that you give them. From experience girls respond to praise and positive reinforcement rather than negative/punishment type motivations. On the whole they are much more worried about doing things right so allowing them to make mistakes is a really big part of what I do. Encouraging them to try things in training is key to getting them confident enough to try it in a match. Other advice is really know your players, if you get to know a girl she will really respond to you. If she trusts you and knows that you take an interest in her she will respond so well. This isn't to say they don't love a challenge either! I regularly challenge the players to do things quicker or put challenges in to their training to see how they respond. It's great to see them working it out together. On the whole they want to work as a team and bond with their team so all the girly fluffy stuff works too! Socialising in a sporty way is a great way of building that bond.
The thing that I have found in the years I have coached female athletes is the you must remember that they are not boys! I know that sounds obvious, but they have a different mindset when it comes to sport. So don’t think the same things will work them.
Here are a couple of tips to just throw out there:
I was introduced by an ex National Cycling champion to the recently published book by Stacy T Sims called "Roar".
I would recommend that any women being coached or indeed self-coached should read it . It sets out in great detail the tasks involved in getting the best from a female physiology as opposed to male. Basically it sets out how women must train as women and not as men, covering everything from weight and diet to brain training.
All the women whose cycling training I am involved with have both enjoyed it and learned a lot from it.
Here are a few thoughts:
1. "This girl can" on TV
This girl can get in front of the camera and lead the commentary on games. It's beginning to happen in rugby (and I don't mean the meaningless pitch side stuff). That sends out a message that women can offer as much insight as men. Remember that sports experts disagree with each other on screen and then on Twitter. Often it's tribal. There are some good brains out there.
This will lead the way. Not tokenism. Real expert analysis.
The netball series on Sky is brilliant. Watch and learn other sports because the expert analysis is far more considered than some of the dinosaurs in men's football and rugby.
2. Generalisations are needed...to start with
All athletes are different. But until you have coached them for a while, you don't know what those differences are.
It's worth starting a coaching job with some principles and then adjust them over time.
That's why several posters have already said that it's worth understanding some general differences between boys and girls. Plus, it's different coaching as man to a woman than as a woman to woman.
Once you've established some grounding, then you can become more personalised in your approach.
What are those generalisations? In my experience in rugby and netball: girls prefer order to chaos, girls don't move to team competition/bonding as quickly, there's more empathy for mistakes between girls, girls will habour a comment about a mistake for longer, girls listen and then play more than boys who prefer to play.
That said, once you know the players and they know you, many of these melt away.
Take the opportunity to coach, whoever's in front of you. You will learn from all the experiences. In rugby the challenge is always to find enough teams of the same standard to play against. Other sports will have other challenges.
Some great feedback, as ever. Members might also be interested in a few related ConnectedCoaches blogs: There are no golden rules to coaching women and What are the differences in coaching girls and boys. Links below.
After coaching men basketball players at a high level for several years I switched to,coaching a senior division 1/2 EBBL women's teams, after several years I drew the following comparisons: -
Women work and play as hard as men players
Women are less ego driven
Women tend to be more team orientated
Women take criticism and adjustment, instruction far better than men
Women ask why? More often, not to be awkward, they really need to know the nuts and bolts of the approach you take as a coach and how it applies to the team
Women players give ideas and opinions freely to improve the team first.
These are of course generalised comments from my experiences at international and higher level women's league basketball and the problem is here when revisiting my experiences I can of course identify exceptions to every rule both from male and female players I have worked with.
Brilliant discussion as ever.
Picking up on the initial question around inspiring women into coaching, a key area that we find time and time again with the female coaches we work with is around confidence. This is a theme which carries over into the work we do with corporates. For female coaches, the crunch points tend to be around: (i) confidence to take up coaching in the first place; (ii) confidence to continue coaching a person/team once they reach a certain level, rather than automatically assuming that it's time to pass them on to 'one of the guys'; and (iii) confidence around knowing and articulating what their areas of strength are. This is why we have developed our programme: Female Coaches - Confidence: Building It and Communicating It, which we are soon to be rolling out.
In terms of coaching women and girls, one area in particular I would like to pick up on is motivation. Whilst it is key to work this out for all participants, it can be particularly important for women and girls. The more time you take to understand why they are taking part and training, the better the rewards will be for both coach and participant going forward. Yes, for some it will be about the social side, the connections made, the 'getting out of the house' etc. But equally for many women and girls it will be about improving, developing, pushing themselves, testing themselves in competition etc.
I also find that when working with female-only groups (and this applies in business aswell) that the atmosphere can be more supportive and open. The group tend to open up more quickly, and I also find that I can rely on participants in a female only workshop to solve problems themselves in a more effective way, rather than having to be guided by me.
Great discussion as ever, thank you!
And I should have added: those of you who follow me know I spend a lot of time talking about emotional intelligence! Two points on this: (i) whilst being aware of generalisations (one of my male colleagues has higher levels of EI than I do, as does my husband!) female coaches tend to score more highly in this area; and (ii) understanding and working on your EI is particularly important when coaching and delivering to women and girls. There are a series of blogs and podcasts on the Connected Coaches site that cover this area in brilliant detail, which I have been fortunate enough to contribute to. Do take a read/have a listen.
On 02/03/17 5:25 PM, Catherine Baker said:
There are a series of blogs and podcasts on the Connected Coaches site
There are a series of blogs and podcasts on the Connected Coaches site
Don't forget videos as well Catherine! For anyone interested this is the first blog in the series: Emotional intelligence is integral to becoming a great coach. At the end of the blog you'll find links to the remaining blogs in the series as well as 4 videos and the podcast episodes.
I had the privilege of coaching our County Women's Rugby squad last season and apart from the odd 'guest coach' appearance & teaching mixed PE classes, had never really 'coached' girls/women. I was very lucky in that the head coach & his other assistant have a lot of experience in the Women's game and learnt a lot from them, but also I think my own positive, open minded attitude & reasonable level of Emotional Intelligence (IMHO anyway! ) enabled me to engage constructively and impact positively in my role with the team.
Tips- be open, honest, approachable- go into it with the mindset that they are PLAYERS first, women/girls second; don't take yourself too seriously; dont take things personally, even when they do (maybe that should be ESPECIALLY when they do! ) Get to know the individuals & HOW they tick/like to be spoken to/respond to feedback; try & work out their preferred learning style & most importantly in my experience, ENJOY IT!- the players feed off your energy regardless of gender...
Majority of my pupils are girls and I have recommended that they find these adverts on the Internet to provide inspiration and motivation! I love the message that they provide!
I find with coaching girls that they ask a lot more questions - they tend to want to know the why, where, what if's and are generally harder on themselves when things don't go to plan. I find being relaxed in my approach and critique when mistakes are made helps alleviate this a little and avoids unnecessary stress.
I also find it useful to find out why they are participating in my sport ... whether they want to be competitive or recreational - that way the goals we set are personal to them and make the athlete take ownership of them. I give them options to make decisions, that way they feel included in the learning process.
Through no particular greater plan, I have ended up doing a lot more coaching of women and girls than mens. (in Rowing), and I am male and a lot older than all of the women/girls I coach.
My top tips.
Dont treat women/girls differently when you coach, but appreciate they are different and adapt to those differences.
Dont try and be something you are not (particularly if you are a male coach). Be yourself. Women have a much better sense if you are being genuine or not.
Do make an extra effort to communicate well. I have found that while boys are happy to go with the flow, girls want to know whats happening, when and why.
Why I like Coaching women:
They are better at taking on board instruction and more importantly, the understanding of why they are being asked to do a task.
They 'get' visualisation, which I find a powerful tool in coaching. Boys dont.
As with all aspects there is no one size fit all, as this depends on club situation, environment and support. However these are just a few ideas that I have used at my club and in my set up. They are small ideas that don't take a lot of coaches time o clubs time, but have the biggest gains.
Let eat me know what you think
I completely agree 100% Mike. "Roar" is a must read especially for male coaches wanting to provide the best coaching practice for females.
Knowing these differences will helps us us coaches keep more females stay active for life by being more in tune with their differences when compared to their male counterparts.
For coaches working with Elite female athletes the knowledge contained can help give them the winning edge.
Tips in the book along with the useful and highly practical coaching tips shared by other coaches on this forum will surely help us coaches and support team staff make a real difference to women worldwide.
If we ever want more girls to get into that bracket of 'serious sport', then we have to get it right at Primary School. Teachers with coaching experience are an asset to any primary school, however not enough teachers have the experience or skills. Primary PE needs to be multi-skilled, fun but challenging and the element of competition introduced gradually. It is these first steps on the road to adolescence that we have to get right and I mean right in a big way. Too much emphasis on sport specific too soon can put girls off sport. They are happy with the multi-skill model because it's fun (that's not to say that some girls want the more competitive edge and we have to make room for those). I have taught in the Primary sector for over 20 years, and I can definitely say that my approach works. But having coaching experience alongside your teaching experience and skills is a major asset. Many girls drop out from sport because they don't want the 'hard edge' of sport, therefore if the multi-skill model could be prolonged then so much the better. We are far too intent in thrusting many on mass into competitive sport far too early, without the seeds of growth, nurture and the LTAD ideology taken into consideration. At the end of the day PE needs to be fun and through fun the girls learn, and from fun/learning comes a good healthy approach to sport. I agree with some of the other bloggers that girls and boys are different and we need to ensure that we take the gender difference into consideration, but that doesn't mean being overtly more in favour than the other. I have used the Create development model for many years, focusing in on the Social, cognitive, personal, physical, health and fitness, and creative approach. The girls respond well to this ideology and I must say if taught well alongside other models e,g, SAQ then we have a very successful PE lesson. We need to be aware however that we cannot shoehorn girls into places they don't want to go, ensuring their needs are met, the lessons well structured and the children always wanting to come back for more. It's not rocket science, but you have to work hard at it.
We talk of emotional intelligence a lot and the lack of it. Is it not right that when we had children playing out a lot, the standard of EI was wider distributed amongst the masses? Just a thought. I have to laugh at how many modern housing estates built and no play areas. Children now have to 'taken' to organised 'play' which is all well and good, but I don't think there was anything better than learning on your doorstep e.g. the rules, respect, listening to your friends the list is endless. And I also have to say that in the 60s girls played with boys at football and many other sports without any intimidation, we just enjoyed it, but did not realise the importance of what we were actually doing.
Let them play!
I am lucky to coach in sports where we positively encourage girls/women to both play alongside and compete against boys/men.
I am also lucky in that some of the girls I have coached have gone on to represent their countries. Boys too mind.
You cannot work that bit out straight away however. You need to do that together over a period of time. Which you can't estimate either.
Then, encourage their parents/carers/guardians to become involved but do remind them that you are the coach and they the parent. A bit like with kids, ensure there are lines (of demarcation) drawn, but if the parents become involved in a positive way, they may become a friend/volunteer/official/coach themselves.
Ask them what they want from the situation(s) you are in. Do they want to be good, better, the best? Do they want to just participate or win? But do give them the opportunity to decide for themselves what they want to do and how to go about it. (They don't have to play against the boys/men if they don't want to).
And remember, if they are good, tell them they are good; tell them they can play at whatever level they themselves wish to go to, and all of the work has to be their own, with you as the guide.
As a female PE and sports coach of 20 years I agree with many of the comments posted. I would like to add two more ideas though - at primary school I feel that girls are very receptive to physical activity - whether it is competitive or not is not the issue. The issue to me is the teacher in front of them - does that teacher understand the specific needs of each child? From there you adapt each session to meet their needs making it fun and developmental. My second point links in - I do not teach boys one way and girls the other - young people are not two camps split by gender. For example some boys do not enjoy being competitive. So again I teach based on the needs of each child in front of me - we have variety, we have fun, we have competition, we have co operative situations, we have team work, we have individual work - the key is not gender, the key is understanding each child / young person/ adult you are teaching and making it work for them. The teacher has to put everything into that lesson to ensure each person gains the most from the session.
Be the change you want to see in your sport. If you want to see more female players and athletes in a sport encourage and support more female coaches. The best tip for coaching females is have more female coaches. If you as a female have a passion for a sport start helping other women enter and participate.
Robert you hit the nail on the head, WHY, I coach a high level representative womens rugby league team in Australia and the first thing they need and want to know is the why.
I have had comments to me from past and current players that, that was there biggest sticking point on not knowing the fundamental reasons why something was so Why we do it that way, once they realised that the understanding and education became easier as they were all willing to listen and learn.
I coach a high level rugby league team as well and have been involved in the NRL the difference with males is that they precise enough they know everything already where being a former professional player myself there always more to know.
I try to keep my practises very specific and purposeful in nature whereby we may do a skill practise and then implement it in a game situation for better understanding, I feel they get a handle of the Why a bit more doing it that way.
Best st of luck.
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