As a mom of two girls and one boy, I would say that coaching boys versus girls is a continuum, and that this is not a hard and fast rule of differences for all boys and all girls. But I observe that the coaches of my girls who were most impactful took a Whole Child approach, with the social-emotional piece a significant one. Alison’s approach to this chapter is both her own experiences plus she polled many of her coach friends, both male and female, to get their take on what they think are the differences coaching girls versus boys.
What Are the Differences Coaching Girls versus Boys?
The University of North Carolina coach, Ansen Dorrance, gave me a really valuable piece of advice when I first started coaching. His advice was to give the girls on the team the first ten minutes of practice. Let them catch up with each other during this time, and then you will have their attention for the next eighty minutes of practice. If you don’t, they will try to get their ten minutes the entire practice, meaning they are distracted.
I followed his advice and I give my team ten minutes of warm ups where they can ask each other about tests, boyfriends, roommate situations and all the other things that are on their mind. This bonding time is really important and once they have reconnected with each other, they are ready to get to work.
This is not the only significant way girls are different than boys. Some comparisons that came out of my polling other coaches include:
- Girls are better listeners.
- Boys are more brave and confident.
- Girls want to be accepted.
- A female player can’t be in the unknown.
- Girls want you to know them as a whole person, not just their abilities as a player.
- Girls are more likely to be perfectionists.
- Girls tend to doubt their abilities.
- Girls are more afraid to fail.
- Boys tend to inflate their abilities.
I think fundamentally boys are over confident of their abilities compared to girls and that has significant consequences for developing players. Boys have a tendency to think they are better than they actually are which makes them unafraid to take risks such as partnering with the best player on the team.
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