According to Sports Psychologist Gloria Balague, “When I work with women athletes, relatedness often arises as an all-important motivational element. Most of the women I speak with will talk about the importance of their relationship with their coach. The personal relationship seems to be the central concern, as is having a group of teammates where they feel a sense of belonging.Often they feel that their coaches did not understand the relatedness they need, resulting in frustration for all parties concerned.
A specific example of this has been my work with elite national gymnasts. They complained to me about coaches who paid more attention to them (because of their performance excellence) and paid less attention to other gymnasts at the club where they trained. This source of stress resulted in a climate of tension and blame for something that is beyond their control. These young girls were looking for good relationships and feelings between all the gymnasts and felt undermined by the differential treatment of the coaches.”
Here are five more tips for sports motivation and coaching female athletes from Women’s Ice Hockey coach Doug Bowdish:
Female athletes have a strong sense of personal responsibility. If you address a group of young women and generalize a specific topic, most will think you are speaking about them, where as most guys might think you’re speaking about someone else.
Female athletes play for their teammates. There are always selfish players, but I have found this to be less the case with women than it is with men. Women are more likely to cheer their teammates and be happy for the success of each others’ accomplishments. Women will often stick up for each other and don’t like being overly singled out, positive or negative. No pedestals, no gutters.
Female athletes want to please their coaches. A coach who has the ability to praise, constructively criticize and challenge their team all at the same time will find tremendous success in developing over-achieving athletes.
Female athletes want to be pushed. My experience is that women’s teams feel a much higher degree of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment when they are physically challenged. This is not to say they should be subjected to senseless conditioning drills, but rather exposed to high tempo, fast- paced practice plans. This type of routine will have a tremendous positive impact on their confidence.
Female athletes want to know. Being prepared and effectively communicating plans and expectations are important parts of getting the most out of female athletes. Letting them be a part of the planning process isn’t a bad idea either – they want ownership and a good coach should want buy-in.