Coaching Female athletes

Text/ Author :Giannis Psarelis

When I have started to coach in a full time basis I was very worried about my coaching ability to coach female athletes. I was worried whether I would be able to understand their special needs, whether I could have the patience to cover their psychological needs,…  Prior to my professional coaching career I have noticed that in team sports there were male that were coaching only female teams and that there weren’t any coaches that could coach effectively male and female groups, at least to my knowledge.

After many years of coaching these fears don’t exist any more as I have many positive experiences with female athletes.

The reason why I have managed to created successful coaching relationships with female athletes are the following :

  1. I haven’t changed my training philosophy and coaching values at my approach to them.

  2. I have proved to them as to male athletes that I really care for them, as I do for male athletes. You have to show to athletes that you really care for them if you expect them to listen to you and accept you as a coach.

  3. I treat all the athletes the same no matter what is their gender. All athletes appreciate that but especially female athletes. This has never been questioned, except from a short period that my training group had about male and only 2 female athletes.

  4. I have never made any comment or humor that might even give the impression of a sexist approach.

  5. I’m very patient with them and I answer all of their questions. They are usually ask more questions and usually are more analytical persons

  6. I have reacted pre-active in order that female athlete feel comfortably in Group sessions where male athletes are by far the majority.

  7. I ask male athletes to treat female athletes very gentle and spend time to help them on issues that they don’t feel comfortable, e.g. mechanics of the bike

  8. I don’t have special sessions for female or male groups but they are mixed groups in every session. In swimming that I have various groups according to the swimming ability there are also mixed groups according to the athletes ability.

  9. More than anything I walk the talk and I demand from athletes to show full respect to the other members of the team

On the other hand someone has to understand that women have some differences concerning their body function and their psychological needs at the involvement with sports:

  • The coach is expected to have a special knowledge about the physiological needs of female athletes. Especially he has to know the effect of the menstrual cycle to their sport abilities. When it’s the right time to learn to them new skills, when their strength is at it’s peak and when at it’s low, when their endurance it’s at it’s peak at it’s low,…

  • The coach is expected to have a special knowledge concerning the different psychological needs of the female athletes and their behaviors that occur as a result of the menstrual cycle or to the different approach that they have from male athletes to the external situations.