16 Jul 7 Random Thoughts On Girls’ Soccer Training
Oftentimes I get asked the question, “How is training girls different than boys?”
Girls work harder. Girls don’t lie on the ground and fake injuries. Girls are more coachable.
* Don’t get me wrong: boys do work hard, especially when they have a female trainer. Imagine that!
But I’ve found as a whole girls are less likely to let egos get in the way. However. Girls have their problems too: unstable hormones, emotional issues, and boy drama. Needless to say, there’s never a dull moment training them.
Admittedly, when I have children, I only want boys. Why? One of my favorite books Freakonomics, says that parents with girls are more likely to divorce. Come on…it’s statistics, and I want my marriage to thrive!!!!
Even though I prefer male children, I would rather coach girls. There’s just something special about them that truly challenges me, from both a physical and psychological standpoint.
Whether they’re afraid to lift weights, do pull ups, or email a college coach about recruiting, or need me to speak in motivational quotes after a high school break up, I get an adrenaline rush from helping them overcome these hurdles. Yeah. I’m weird.
Here are 7 Random Thoughts On Girls’ Soccer Training
1.) Be a friend on the street, but a coach on the field.
More often than not, it’s critical to be a jack of all trades when coaching girls.
Now this isn’t to insinuate to be bffs and grab frozen yogurt after every practice and game, but simply, to be accessible off the field for life and soccer advice. As an example, I always have an “open text” policy with my players. This could mean asking me to edit an email to a college coach, or write a reference letter, or give them a home workout that will make them hate life. Other things players have texted me about include cleat brand advice, a Remember the Titans style pep talk, or to send a Buddhist quote as a pick-me-up.
Playing the part of the friend off the field establishes trust and respect, as well as fosters long-lasting connection between you and your female players. Girls are different from boys in the sense they externalize their feelings, and are more likely to need support in tough situations.
2.) Teach the reason for strength training.
To hell with the question, “Why do we need push ups and pull ups for soccer?” Before my girls even ask, I’m a step ahead.
Whenever I have a girl starting upper body strength training for the first time, I give reasons why 1) the exercise is important 2) how it translates to soccer and 3) how to perform it like a boss. Aka don’t look like a Crossfitter!!!
Because let’s face it: upper body training can seem like an insurmountable task for beginner females. Teaching them the reason for strength training excites and empowers them. There is a powerful link between lifting heavy and performing at their best in soccer, and showing them this gives them purpose and direction.
Things like better posture, improved lean muscle mass, and increased maximal speed are all reasons that speak to the awesomeness of upper body work. Shit, you can even tell them upper body strength helps them fight boys’ cuties. They’ll listen.
Oh, and newsflash: in order to exert maximal force into the ground and run fast, you MUST be strong. EVERYWHERE. To avoid an anatomy rant, see below:
3.) Teach them how to be women.
Gone are the days when my players gossip, participate in drama, or talk badly about others. Things like these separate the women from the girls.
Over the course of my soccer career, I learned the importance of team work, accountability, open communication, and good old-fashioned hard work. Now as a coach, it’s about teaching soccer skills as well as basic life skills. Aka How To Be Grown Ass Women. One of my favorite books Inside Out Coaching speaks to the transformational aspect of coaching, and how we have the power to impact our players’ lives off the field. Sometimes, it’s about achieving something far greater than winning games. It’s about building resilient women who grab life by the balls.
One more thing: I always encourage my players to align with their authenticity. For me, I’m sarcastic, I drop F bombs left and right, and I speak in sexual innuendos. Oh well. Many would argue that this is setting a bad example for young girls, when really, I’m simply being myself. And clamming up who I am at my core has never worked out. I’ve felt unproductive, scared, and tense.
With that said, girls should always, always step into their authentic power both on and off the field. This provides them with more clarity, confidence, and self-love, but more importantly, allows them to find solace in being their incredible selves.
4.) You CAN reduce chance of knee injury. Like a lot.
“Girls have wider hips” is the lameessssstttttttttttttt excuse. And soccer coaches say it way too often it makes me want to bang my head against a brick wall.
Yes, female anatomy is tough to fight. BUT. As coaches, as trainers, as teachers, we must fix our players’ imbalances before its too late. The good news is that we can reduce our players’ chance of injury by fixing muscle imbalances, postural deviations, and conditioning. I wrote an extensive article on the topic here.
Some exercises girls can perform involve a lot of booty. In fact, I’m about to trademark the hashtag, #soccerbooty. Look out world!!!!
Or you can find imbalances by having them perform unilateral exercises like these:
5.) Reinforce how stupid boys are.
I’ll leave it at that. #soccerislife #boyssuck
6.) Recognize bad days happen.
Most girls can’t be on point and sharp at every training session. Boy problems arise, the time of month happens, and the zombie apocalypse is near. This is when you have to actually be nice and operate under some Grammy Award Winning empathy.
Normally, leaving your female player alone is your best bet. Don’t over-coach, don’t ask what’s wrong, just let her be. In fact, the question “is everything okay?” is worse than Donald Trump saying “You can trust me with national defense.”
Political jokes aside, the less stimulation, the better. Because most of the time, if a girl is on her time of month, every word a coach says is like nails on a chalkboard. Allow her to be free on the pitch, express herself through creative exercises, and live in the moment. One of my favorite drills to execute is Soccer Skills Creativity (electronic dance music preferred). ;-0
7.) Maximal strength glute training is key.
Every time someone extols the curviness of my booty, they jump conclusions and say, “Oh, you must squat.” Well, actually, I dead lift, barbell hip thrust, and fight crime. Squatting has played a small (if not at all) role in building my glutes.
Most of the time, female soccer players live in an anterior dominated world, meaning their quadriceps are stronger than the Incredible Hulk, and their hamstrings could snap at the touch of a fingertip. Sure, anterior training must NEVER be ignored in your programming.
Posterior work in terms of maximal strength and power should be the main focus for females. One of my favorite exercises is the barbell hip thrust. It’s easier to teach than the squat, you can lift maximal loads without compromising form, and you can hump the air. It’s cool. Just don’t make eye contact while you perform it.
Single leg progressions are also nice for accessory work:
Pretty much, girls are awesome. And I know I didn’t give any of my male players love in this article, but shoutout to you guys. You’re awesome too!
That reminds me…over a year ago, I wrote an article called Something’s Gotta Give: What I Learned From Training Male Soccer Players, and I still stand by my main points. Since then, however, some things have changed. So if you’d like me to write an updated version, comment below. But to warn you: I WILL be brutally honest. <3 <3