Women Coaching Sports: A New Educational Series

Currently I am working on developing the first Women Coaching Sports workshop. Research shows female athletes who have never been coached by a female often believe that male coaches are more competent than female coaches. In the absence of female coaches and role models, female athletes may devalue their own abilities, accept negative stereotypes, fail to realize their potential, or consider coaching as a viable career path. In addition, research indicates that coaches cite formalized mentoring as the most important factor in their acquisition and development of coaching knowledge and expertise. Less than 20% of all youth sport coaches are female, and many female coaches face personal, familial and structural barriers that prevent or impede them from entering and remaining in coaching.

U of M coachTo help address these barriers, I’m developing an educational series for women who coach sports at the youth and interscholastic levels. Some of the curriculum utilizes ideas from youth sport mother-coaches I interviewed as part of a research initiative. The series mirrors the NACWAA/HERS Institute for collegiate coaches and administrators.

The purpose of the Women Coaching Sports workshop series is threefold:
1. To provide cutting-edge, research-based educational workshops for females who coach at the interscholastic and youth levels
2. To provide an opportunity for female coaches to build community, network, and develop on-going support for each other throughout their coaching tenures
3. To attract, develop, retain and empower diverse female coaches

The series is a collaborative outreach project of two entities at the University of Minnesota—the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and the Minnesota Youth Sport Research Consortium.

I would love to hear your ideas about content to include in the workshop series or ideas you may have. Stay tuned for more information about this exciting venture!

3 Replies to “Women Coaching Sports: A New Educational Series”

  1. I’m willing to bet that even when women are coaches that they are coaches for their daughters’ teams. The fact that it is a normal practice for men to coach their sons’ and daughters’ teams but only normal for women to coach daughters’ teams should be addressed. For instance, my dad coached both me and my brother in a number of sports. My best friend’s mom coaches her daughter’s softball team while the dad coaches his son’s football team. The same double standard is seen in higher level sports–the men can coach either men or women but the women can only coach women. So, how can moms and other women coach a young boy’s team successfully? How can they overcome the parents’ likely dissent and get the young boys to take them seriously as a coach who is every bit as (or maybe even more) knowledgeable?


  2. Risa-Yes you are correct a majority of women coaches…about 98%…coach girls. You raise some great questions and unfortunately women have to be perceived as Uber-Competent to coach boys and men. To change this perception one strategy is to SEE more women coaching both boys and girls. It might help to change perceptions of women in leadership perceptions. However, merely increasing the numbers without addressing cultural and structural barriers that “sort” women into coaching only girls is only half the issue.
    Thanks for your comment. -nml


  3. As a female athlete who has had primarily male coaches throughout my life, I am well aware of my own deeply-ingrained beliefs about female coaches. In looking for a triathlon coach several years ago I noticed my willingness to consider male coaches who had not necessarily achieved athletic greatness themselves. However, in looking at female coaches, I painstakingly scrutinized their own achievements as well as their expertise. As a coach myself, I think this is very telling about not only how I am viewed by the athletic society, but also about how I have the potential (and tendency) to perpetuate this problem.
    I also think it is so important not only for young female athletes, but also for young male athletes to have strong, competent female coaches. Sadly, it’s a painful road to tread because a tough woman coach is often perceived to be a “bitch” whereas that quality is nurtured and appreciated in male coaches. In the same way, a nurturing female coach may be perceived as “soft” when lately there seems to be a greater appreciation for the male coach who can also nurture his athletes.


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