By Coach Jamie Kirkman
One of the biggest topics I often see online and hear coaches talk about is determining the differences when working with male and female players. In my professional opinion, if you are a great coach there really is not a great deal of difference when it comes to technical facets of the game. From a mental stand point on the other hand, research has consistently demonstrated some important gender differences that are important for coaches to be aware of.
When working with females athletes, my best advice is to plan out time to TALK. Studies focused on investigating the psychological profiles of female players have shown that female athletes tend to have higher levels of emotional intelligence (EI). EI refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. EI is generally said to include 3 skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply to them to tasks such as thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage and regulate one’s own emotions. This high level of EI allows female athletes to benefit from open discussion with their coaches regarding technical, tactical, physical and mental aspects of the game.
In my own experience, female players are willing to hear when something isn’t right and are prepared to talk about why and how they are going to fix the problem. Male players, on the other hand, may respond to verbal criticism in a defensive manner and focus more on defending themselves as opposed to seeking solutions on how to get better.
Coaches prepared to both LISTEN and talk with their female athletes improves the working relationship between coach and player. If a female player is confident and comfortable in the relationship with their coach who has taken the time out to listen and talk with them, the end result is trust. When trust is built it allows for faster development of the player which ultimately ends in better results.
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