Getting Through to the Young Female Athlete

Getting Through to the Young Female Athlete

Hi, my name is Erica. And I’m a female.

We overthink, put pressure on ourselves, expect perfection, and overreact to small things.

And more often than not, we’re likely to go bonkers when our boyfriend texts us back, “Okay.”

What do you mean okay-with-a-fucking-period-at-the-end?!

That’s females, well, thinking like females. Freaking out over one-word responses and periods in text messages when our man was secretly planning a surprise for us.

That’s females, no doubt. But please bear in mind this post isn’t about bashing my own sex. It’s about understanding how the chick psyche works so that we can get through to our female athletes better.

As a coach of 6 years, I’ve been lucky enough to see both ends of the spectrum, coaching and training boys and girls. So what’s the main difference?

Girls overthink. Boys don’t. That’s the honest truth.

Ask a boy soccer player to come up with as many moves as he can and dribble through cones, no questions asked. He just does it.

In the other corner, ask a girl to do this and they ask a million questions to make sure they do the drill correctly, even after I tell them there are no rules to the drill. Just dribble:

Girls overthink a lot in sports. They want to be correct the first time, and get approval from their coaches. If they fuck up, the world goes up in flames.

So what are some ways to get through to them? How can we evade them from getting in their own heads?

1.) If they make a mistake, fix it.

It’s easy to yell at your players if they mess up. But for girls? This is a big no-no at first, especially if you haven’t build enough rapport.

Girls need not be chastised, otherwise they will fear making a mistake again. UNC coach Anson Dorrance wrote a great book on what it’s like coaching girls here. Give it a read. He’s not a women’s
soccer legend or anything. ;-O

So be gentle initially, tell them how to do better next time, and move on.

2.) Reinforce resilience.

Adversity is a natural life occurrence, and it’s our job to communicate this with our female athletes.

She missed her penalty kick? Tell her millions of professional players have missed PKs and learned how to be better next time.

It’s best to remind our girls that life is adversity. And this is what makes the good days even more magical.

3.) Make yourself relatable. 

I’m not perfect as a coach. I’m a human, I mess up, in fact, I’m still trying to sort my life out.

And it’s totally okay to tell your players that. Be transparent with them about who you are from the beginning.

I remember one day I told my girls, “I don’t expect perfection from you all because I’m not even perfect myself.” The relief in their eyes was nothing short of amazing.

So that’s that. A simple article on the female brain. I could go on and on, but I’m not a psychologist. So take everything I say with a grain of salt here. Thank you.

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