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ABC's of Coaching: F Is For Female Athletes

posted by Coach Dawn Writes
Monday, November 14, 2011 at 12:19pm EST

My blog is a place for coaches at all levels who are interested in building teams, motivating their student athletes, and coaching ideas that work. You won't find drills or job postings there, but you will find thoughts from a self-proclaimed coaching nerd who wants to help coaches and teams thrive.

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Please join me for a fun series.  My mission, and I’ve chosen to accept it, is to write a post based on each letter of the alphabet.  The English major inside of me is very excited about this project…and my inner nerd is even more fired up!  Keep checking back as I tackle the intangibles of sport…from A to Z.

I’ve always talked to my teams about being process-driven rather than outcome-driven, of course believing that if we adhere to the process…the outcome will be one in our favor.  If I’m successful, they will focus less on the scoreboard or the wins and losses, and more on the path to get there: hard work, focused practices, being competitively great.

I have the same viewpoint of working with female athletes.  Much like we give the team a game plan (process) for shutting down an opponent’s strongest player (outcome), we’ve got to have a strategy for equipping our female athletes for success.  So that’s what I’ll talk about here with you today.

What’s our desired outcome?  What goals would we like to achieve with our players?

Four fabulous outcomes of working with female athletes

  1. Teamy teams.  Teamy is a word I made up to describe the state of an individual who values their teammates and enjoys being in a team environment.  The teamy player puts their teammates first and is willing to sacrifice personal glory for the good of the team.  Teaminess is what occurs when a group of people come together with a common goal, a common purpose, and a common level of dedication.
  2. Confident players.  Confidence is essential to any sort of success your team may have…and it’s got to be consistent.  Situational confidence is based on a specific performance and is short-lived, to be crushed by the next loss or poor performance.  But genuine confidence?  Now that’s the good stuff!  It is a belief the athlete holds deep down within themselves that they will ultimately be successful.
  3. Mentors.  Little girls need to see that sports are for them too.  They need to see that women can be aggressive and competitive and achievers…that’s where our teams come in!  I believe in the power of sport to teach all sorts of life lessons, but first they’ve got to get in the game.
  4. Success.  The 10 Essential Characteristics That Winners Must Possess is one of my favorite posts…it’s also one of the most popular on the blog.  We all want our players to be winners.  Not just on the court, but in the classroom…and later on, in the board room.  When my players walk across the stage at commencement, there are many life lessons I hope they’ve learned from their time with me.  Some of those lessons are contained in the Winners post…I hope you check it out.


So how do we get to this place?  Or, in other words, what’s the game plan?

Three thoughtful ways to plan for the success of your female athletes

  1. Leadership.  It’s got to be okay to have captains with power and influence who feel comfortable exerting that power with their teammates.  I believe that it is critical to shape your team’s and your captain’s view of what a captain should be, what she should do, why she is doing it, and that it is okay to exercise power in her role as captain.
  2. “Girl drama”.  If you bought my book, you know that I don’t believe in girl drama.  I understand that conflict is real…but I don’t believe conflict is gender based.  When you bring up “girl drama”, folks usually chuckle, with an eye roll thrown in for good measure, and shrug in an “oh well” manner.  I don’t think it has to be that way, let’s have higher standards for our female athletes.
  3. Competition.  Women are very competitive and will rise to any occasion…together.  Studies show that women join teams to be a part of something and to socialize, then once they realize they’re good, they’ll keep playing.  That’s exactly the opposite of guys who join teams because they’re good and happen to make friends along the way.  So, the moral of the story is, if you want to motivate your female athletes to greatness, remind them of their teaminess.


I’m sure that if you follow this plan, or one of your own, you’ll be happy with the end result: confident, successful female athletes who excel on teams!

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