Category Archives: Female athletes

Why Women’s Athletics? Selling Its Benefits In Tough Economic Times

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I wrote this article for the Fall 2010 NCAA Champion magazine.  I found that the more I talked to female athletes at all levels, many of them really didn’t understand Title IX or the value of women’s athletics.  My goal in this article wasn’t to prove that the volleyball team brings in as much money as the men’s ice hockey team, but that the benefit of sport (and women’s sports in particular) is more than the bottom line of a budget sheet.

Do you know what your team’s view of Title IX is?  More than likely, they view their athletic selves as the balance for men’s athletics…and I’d say that that should not be the case.  Women’s athletics stands alone as important and beneficial without the need to “balance out” athletic departments.  Viewing volleyball and softball and field hockey as existing solely to enable men to play their sports and be in compliance with the law is a pretty powerless and pathetic existence.

I read a great article on the Financial Times website titled, “A Good Economist Knows the True Value of the Arts”, which talked about how the arts, hospitals, and sports try to demonstrate their relevance by selling their economic value.  I’m sure you’ve heard the schpiel:  women’s volleyball is helping the university by bringing families onto campus and they’re buying concessions, the concessions stand is employing workers, and the facility is able to employ more folks for maintenance and crowd control.  But the author asserts that those are costs, not benefits, and that the savvy athletic director should (if it all comes down to finances) cut volleyball because the financial benefit does not come close to the financial cost taken on by the college.  Here’s a great quotation from that article:

The value of an activity is not what it costs, but the amount by which its benefit exceeds its costs. The economic contribution of sport is in the pleasure participants and spectators derive, and the resulting gains in health and longevity. That value is diminished, not increased, by the resources that need to be diverted from other purposes.

So if finances aren’t the way to sell women’s athletics to our colleagues (who may silently believe that we are there for balance only) or the higher ups who are taking hard looks at the budget…what are our selling points?  Where are the places that, like the quotation above says, the benefits of women’s athletics exceed its costs?  There are many advantages to sports participation that will stay with its participants for life, here are a few.

Health Young ladies who participate in sports reduce their chance of getting breast cancer by 60% according to Journal of the National Cancer Institute (1994)…at a time where one in eight women have gotten or will be diagnosed with breast cancer, that’s huge!  On top of that, it’s been proven that performing weight bearing exercises while young will help fight off osteoporosis later in life.

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 don’t know about you, but I was never the stereotypical “girly girl”, wearing pink and playing with dolls, so sports participation was always a part of my life.  But what if, through watching our athletes play, that stereotype shifted to include having a lacrosse stick or golf club in her hand?

Learning to excel in a team environment Go to any business magazine or read any book designed for managers and you’ll see the word “team” over and over again.  The ability to strive within a team construct should be the hallmark of women’s athletics.  Our athletes learn leadership, how to win and lose with grace, how to recognize strengths and weakness in themselves and others…and use those to their advantage, and how to perform under pressure.  All characteristics that will serve them well after their time on our fields and courts is over.

Let’s all agree to talk to our teams about what they do and why it’s important.  To explain that both men’s and women’s athletics can stand on their own respective two feet…both strong and autonomous.  By doing this, we will equip them to answer the question: why women’s athletics?

What has your department done in terms of educating your student athlete population?  How about education for the coaching staff?  Any other ideas?

Female Leaders: How To Get Ahead And Not Alienate People

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Hey ladies…it’s true!  We always thought that it was, now there’s proof.  A study by the Harvard business school shows that when women asked for raises, not only were their bosses less inclined to give them the raise, “but they also didn’t like the women very much” for asking!  Why?  According to this article, we (you, me, everyone) are culturally wired to see women as advocates for others…not themselves.  So much so, that even when women assert themselves and become their own advocates, everyone is uncomfortable with the perceived selfishness.

Since folks see women as being more emotional and relationship-oriented, turn those perceptions on their heads and make them work for you!  When talking to your boss, make it all about the group as a whole (I’ve written before about women being all about the relationships) and how the pay raise, or additional assistant coach, or more expensive equipment will benefit your team and the department…not just you specifically.

3 targeted techniques women can use to get ahead in the business world

1.       Talk about how much you care about the team.  Women are seen as caring and nurturing, so use that to your advantage in negotiations.  Explain how this upgrade in pay or staffing or equipment benefits your team and will make their experience on your team better.  It’s not about you…it’s about the team.

2.       Explain how important your relationships are to you.  Talk about how you benefit the office and what you bring to the table.  If you’re a female coaching females, you can talk about how important it is to you that your athletes learn to get along and work together under a female leader.  You can explain how preparing your athletes for the “real world” is your highest aim.  Again, you’re not asking for the upgrade just for yourself, but so that you can better serve your team.

3.       Articulate how much you love your job and would hate to perform it at any level other than excellent. This may be the time to mention that you’re the lowest paid (but most successful) coach in your conference, or how your facilities are the oldest of all “like” schools…whatever it is that you’re asking for.  Again, you’re explaining how much you love your job, your school, and your team…and how it pains you not to do everything at a top-notch level.

There you go coach!  The next time you feel like you’re up for a little bump in pay or your program has needs, use these techniques and success is sure to follow.  It’s also a great tool to teach our female athletes for when their playing careers are over and it’s time to (literally) get down to business.

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Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes Is Available For Purchase!

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I wrote my book because I saw a need for coaches of female athletes to be excited about working with female athletes.  Up to that point, every post I’d written about coaching female athletes received such a strong (and positive) response.  If you’ve not had a chance to purchase the book, I hope you’ll think about it.  The second edition also comes with a Pyramid of Success powerpoint. It’s only 56 pages long, so it’s a quick read that you’ll be able to apply to your team right away.

As you can tell from the picture, I’m very excited that my ebook is finally available for purchase!  I’m new at all of this selling business, so it’s been a bit of a process to figure everything out.  It was all worth it, though, because I’m confident that there’s good information that you’ll use in Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes.

I’ve written before about how important I think professional development is for folks with our jobs.  I mean, how can coaches not want to learn more?  And if you learn one thing from my book (and I think you’ll a lot more!), then it’ll be well worth the $10!  It’s a 56-page guide with tangible tips, action items, anecdotes designed to help your team excel…and because it’s a PDF, you’ll be able to start reading immediately!

I’m super excited about all things ebook, right now!  I’m excited about that snazzy cover, I’m excited about figuring out how to set everything up, but mostly…I’m excited that I can get more info out there about how to get the best from your female athletes!  I don’t want to rewrite what I said before, so you can click here to read what I wrote when it was an upcoming book rather than a published book.

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I hope you’ll buy the book and enjoy it…and tell all of your friends about it (hint, hint)!  $10 and it’s all yours…enjoy!  Once you complete your purchase, you’ll immediately be able to start reading the book.  Just click on the “Add to Cart” button and you’ll be well on your way.

I pre-launched the book with the folks on my subscriber list last week and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response.  Lots of people are looking for this information and enjoying the book…hopefully you will too!

The Joys Of Coaching Female Athletes

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Last summer, I spent a month writing about the different things that I love about coaching.  It’s an exercise I’d highly recommend for all coaches.  I’m sure every one of us has moments when the grind threatens to get us down…that’s when we need to remember what we love about what we do.  For me, one of those things is coaching female athletes.

Usually, when I tell someone that I love coaching female athletes, the person I’m talking to starts giggling.  Granted, I’m a pretty funny lady, but that’s one topic I don’t joke about.  During “I Love Coaching” month, I’ve been talking about the things that make my heart happy about this profession.  One of the biggies, and certainly near the top of the list, is working with female athletes. So whether you think I’m crazy and need to be convinced or you totally agree…read on to find out three of the reasons that working with female athletes rocks my world!

3 things I love about coaching female athletes

Teaching the intangibles. All the stuff that this blog is about: leadership, team chemistry, goal setting, the mental side of our sport…I love, love, love working with female athletes on that stuff!  Why?  Because I firmly believe that women can get along work together well, they just need to be taught how to coexist on a team.  I believe that when the coach firmly lays out their expectations for behavior on the team, their female athletes will fall into line.  Will playing time be yanked if you find out your players have been gossiping, fighting, or bullying their teammates?  I bet they’ll stop that nonsense right away if it is.  Confronting negative behavior while giving them a model of appropriate behavior is what coaching is all about…whether it’s tangibles or intangibles.

Lifelong benefits of sport. Think about this:  research suggests that girls who participate in sports are less likely to get involved with drugs, less likely to get pregnant and more likely to graduate from high school than those who do not play sports.  Why?  Because they’re accountable to a team and a coach…something bigger than themselves.  They won’t do drugs because they know if they get caught, they can’t play.  They’re less likely to get pregnant because their self-esteem doesn’t come solely from the attention they get from boys…they’re confident in themselves.  They’re more likely to graduate from high school because their coach probably has minimums for participation and she wants to play…so she adheres to the guidelines.  Isn’t that awesome?

Feel the love! Female athletes love “the team”.  Female athletes are so relational and caring that they can genuinely revel in the successes of their teammates. Check out this picture of the Penn State volleyball team as they celebrate a victory.  They physically connect with one another, their eyes are locked, they’re tuned in!

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Now your job, Coach, is to sell your team on the fact that giving a correction to their teammate is loving that teammate.  And that not accepting poor behavior off of the court is loving your teammate.  Finally, that going all out every practice so that they can make each other better is loving their teammates.

Of course there are challenges associated with any team that we’ll coach, but those challenges shouldn’t be gender-based. If you’re coaching female athletes…consider yourself lucky!

Want more info on the topic?  Check out my ebook, Coach Dawn’s Guide To Motivating Female Athletes.

How To Equip Our Female Athletes To Be Leaders

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The blog vacation continues! We’ve been covering my favorite topic…coaching female athletes.  Is coaching females tremendously different than coaching males?  Nope.  But there are differences and understanding them could ensure a successful season for you.

Do you believe that your job is to equip your players with life skills as well as sport skills?  Well, this post will be right up your alley!  In a TEDtalk called, New Data On The Rise Of Women, Hanna Rosin give tons of facts about how women are getting more advanced degrees, making more money, and taking on more leadership roles than ever before.

While those facts and figures were impressive, they weren’t what stood out to me.  What her talk said to me is that those of us in position to train tomorrow’s leaders had better get on the ball!  This is powerful information that should guide us in how we teach the leaders on our teams.

Rosin talks about how the “old” leadership model favored men with its hierarchical pattern, but how the “new” leadership model generally fits women better.  What does this new model look like?  Let’s check it out!

3 ways coaches can prepare their female athletes for leadership roles

  1. Build teams.  With all of these ideas, the idea that women inherently carry these qualities is a generalization.  So don’t get all huffy that the assumption is that women excel at the less rigid leadership models…the numbers don’t lie.  Okay, now that I’ve gotten the disclaimer out of the way, let’s talk.    The days of the leader/manager/boss sitting up on high and being rarely seen are over.  These days leaders roll up their sleeves and create groups of people who want to work together toward a common purpose.
    On our teams:  To help our captains with their future endeavors, we should encourage them to put aside their desire to be dictatorial and entitled. Many times, upperclassmen feel that they deserve to hold the position rather than being grateful to serve both their coaches and teammates.  As they work through the natural ups and downs of a season, they will learn how to manage different personality types and the power of compromise.
  2. Help encourage communication.  This is a natural outcome of building a team.  Today’s leaders have a vision that they are able to clearly convey to their work crew.  They will properly delegate responsibilities while giving their people the necessary tools to succeed.  Today’s leader will clearly detail a path to success.
    On our teams:  Whether it’s in the locker room before practice or at the water cooler during a practice break, our captains should be able to clearly tell their teammates what effort level is required of everyone during every moment of practice.  Beyond that, they should be outwardly supportive of their teammates.
  3. Foster creativity.  Today’s leaders give their team room to reach the goal in their own manner.  They don’t want cookie cutter “yes men”, but innovative thinkers.  By doing this, the leader also equips their people with the tools they’ll need to become leaders in their own right.
    On our teams:  As coaches, we should free up our captains to be their own people…not to just emulate the captains before them.  In the same vein, our captains have to let their teammates have a voice.


Let’s go out and make sure we prepare our female athletes to take their place as future leaders.

Want to read more about female athletes and leadership?  Check these out!

Teaching Our Athletes To Embrace Power, Part 1
Teaching Our Athletes To Embrace Power, Part 2
Female Leaders: How To Get Ahead And Not Alienate People
What Are You Worth? How To Negotiate Salary

 

F Is For Female Athletes

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Last winter, I wrote a post based on each letter of the alphabet.  The English major inside of me was very excited about this project…and my inner nerd was even more fired up!  As the blog vacation continues, I hope you enjoy reading about how coaching female athletes can be the highlight of your day…everyday.

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!

The 3 R’s Of Coaching Female Athletes

Last winter, I wrote a post based on each letter of the alphabet.  The English major inside of me was very excited about this project…and my inner nerd was even more fired up!  As the blog vacation continues, I hope you enjoy reading about how coaching female athletes can be the highlight of your day…everyday.

Coaching female athletes is fun, inspiring, challenging, and motivating.  Though there are many, many similarities between coaching men and women…there are some differences.  Knowing, acknowledging, and acting on those differences can be the difference between a satisfying or miserable season.

3 things coaches must have to coach female athletes

Raison d’etre.  This is a French phrase that means “the purpose that justifies a thing’s existence.”  So what is the raison d’etre for the female team?  Of course, the most obvious purpose for any team is to experience success and win games.  The next purpose, regardless of gender, is that our goals can’t be accomplished alone…we need teammates.  The difference with female athletes is the motivation required to bring our teams to a place of success.  Changing the player’s perceptions of competition, accepting different personality types, and having common language for success are some of the necessary steps to creating raison d’etre.

Raconteur.  This is another French word (I was a French minor in college) that I love, because I enjoy telling stories.  A raconteur is a person who tells tales in a skillful and amusing way.  Not to toot my own horn (but toot! toot!), but I can tell a mean story.  I remember a time when my team was winning games, but not in the dominating fashion that we should.  I gathered the team around and told them about my childhood love of the video game Mortal Combat.  And how when you’d beaten your opponent, you had two choices.  You could merely hit him and advance to the next level or, knowing a special code, you could reach inside your opponent’s chest and literally rip his beating heart right out.  I’m sure you can imagine that the next team we faced got crushed.  Moral of the story: it’s okay for women to be tough and uncompromising in our pursuit of victory.

Raise the bar.  I’ve got a long list of pet peeves, but pretty high on the list is the shoulder shrug and helpless look some coaches have when they talk about coaching females.  Like, “women…what are ya gonna do?”.  It drives me crazy, because it makes poor behavior from female athletes okay.  Gossiping, not talking to teammates, treating teammates poorly…that’s all poor behavior that needs to be modified by the coach.  It’s not behavior that’s inherent to female teams, but if a coach believes that it is then they’ll let correctable actions go uncorrected.  The team will rise to the expectation level of the coach.  If we expect more, we’ll get more.

I enjoy coaching female athletes…and I want everyone to feel the same!  I believe if we stick with it, we’ll find the key to open up success for our teams.

T Is For Title IX: The History, The Myth, The Reality

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Last winter, I wrote a post based on each letter of the alphabet.  The English major inside of me was very excited about this project…and my inner nerd was even more fired up!  As the blog vacation continues, I hope you enjoy this post about Title IX.

I’ve said it a million times on this blog in a million different ways:  sport isn’t just about sport, but about learning the intangibles that will benefit its participants for the remainder of their lives.   Title IX enabled a whole new segment of our society to experience the joy of athletics…check out this post to learn more about what Title IX was intended to do and if it’s accomplished its mission.

The history.  I was at a conference a few years ago and learned that Title IX isn’t just a sports amendment…all I’d ever heard about it was in relation to gender equity for collegiate athletes.   In reality, the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in any educational institution that receives federal money…from kindergarten to university.  Apparently, back in the day, schools would favor men in admissions policies, recruitment strategies, and financial aid packages.  That would clearly limit women’s access to education.  Title IX came about in 1972 to alleviate this problem.  It turns out that equity in athletics was a happy by-product of a much broader law.

The myth.  There are a lot of them so I won’t talk about them all, but I did want to hit a couple of them.  The first is “we don’t need Title IX anymore, everything’s all good.”  While things are most certainly better than they were before the amendment, we’ve still got a long way to go.  In terms of athletics, women receive less in scholarship money and less in opportunities to compete…so we still need folks to be mandated toward equity.  Secondly, a prevalent myth is “women’s sports are causing men’s sports to be cut.”  Schools aren’t cutting men’s sports because of women’s athletics…they’re cutting them because that’s the choice they’ve made.  Participation in men’s sports is growing.  Administrators have decided to cut some sports (notably men’s track and wrestling) to bolster financial support of more popular sports.

The reality.  Check out these numbers from the Women’s Sports Foundation and Equity Research Center:

  • Male athletes still receive 55% of college athletic scholarship dollars;
  • Women’s teams receive only 38% of college sport operating dollars and 33% of college athletic team recruitment spending.


All is not lost though!  Check out some of the great things that have happened since Title IX was enacted:

  • In 1995, women made up 37 percent of athletes in college, compared to 15 percent in 1972;
  • In 1996, girls constituted 39 percent of high school athletes, compared to 7.5 percent in 1971;
  • In 1994, women received 38 percent of medical degrees, compared with 9 percent in 1972; 43 percent of law degrees, compared with 7 percent in 1972; and 44 percent of all doctoral degrees, compared to 25 percent in 1977.


I believe athletics has made me a better person and I can’t imagine my life without sports.  Title IX is important to me because I believe in the benefits of sport…and I want to make sure everyone has as level a playing field as possible to experience those intangibles.

Want to know more?  Check out Title IX: A Brief History from the Equity Research Center.

10 Qualities We Want Our Female Athletes To Have

The blog vacation continues! Now that we’ve gone through the Pyramid of Success, it’s time to hit my favorite topic…coaching female athletes.  Is coaching females tremendously different than coaching males?  Nope.  But there are differences and understanding them could ensure a successful season for you.

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In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about beginning with the end in mind.  As coaches of female athletes, what qualities do we want them to have when their time with us is finished?

10 pieces of advice for our female athletes

  1. Be confident.  In the interest of connecting with the young folks, I went over to Urban Dictionary and looked up swagger…because I know my athletes know what that word means! Swagger means “to move with confidence and conduct yourself in a way that would automatically earn respect.”  I want my athletes to believe in themselves, their training, and their teammates.
  2. Be strong.  Not just mentally, though that’s important too.  I want my female athletes to feel comfortable in the weight room.  I want them to go to the free weights and know what to do.  I want them to be proud of their muscles and their strength.  Athletes will sometimes express reservations about getting “too big”.  Just tell them they’re not going to get big (without some unnatural help) and then tell them to go to the weight room.
  3. Be tough.  Sometimes when my team is really getting after it in the gym and they’re dragging a bit, I tell them about our cross country coach.  He runs 100-mile ultra-marathons in the summers.  I tell my team that I’m sure he gets tired, but it’s mind over matter.  I also remind them that they’re not running 100 mile ultra-marathons, so their energy shouldn’t be dragging.
  4. Be a student.  Smart players with high sport I.Q.’s are successful.  Smart players study scouting reports and know their opponent’s tendencies.  Smart players know their strengths and hide their weaknesses.  Smart players can’t get enough of learning about the game.  Smart players want to improve.  Let’s all encourage our athletes to learn about their sport.
  5. Be thoughtful.  Great players think when they play.  They’re not confused by the success or failure of a play…they can tell you exactly why things turned out the way they did.  In the chess match that is sport, thoughtful players succeed over those who just react.
  6. Be proud.  I never want my players to underestimate their abilities.  It’s a stereotypically female trait to downplay one’s contribution, but if they’re ballers…isn’t it okay for them to say they’re a baller?  Of course, I don’t want any player to take sole credit for a team victory, but I want them to be confident in their contribution to the team effort.
  7. Be decisive.  When female players lack that swagger or pride in what they bring to the team, they hesitate.  To overcome this hesitation problem, we have to create an atmosphere in our practices where aggressive play is rewarded.  Sure, they may make a mistake…but who doesn’t?
  8. Be great.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I love John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.  The peak of the pyramid is Competitive Greatness.  This is my greatest delight as a coach: to watch my female athletes execute under pressure…when everything is on the line.
  9. Be energetic.  In my mind, this is an underrated quality.  How many of our players can say that they brought high energy to practice every single day?  Every single week?  Every single month?  For the entire season…that’s a tall order!  It’s one of the hardest skills to teach…constant focus over the course of a long season.  It’s tough, but those teams that accomplish it are usually successful.
  10. Be passionate.  If our players love the sport, then the rest of these things I’ve talked about will happen.  Why?  Because their passion will make them stick with it when they’re discouraged, when they’re tired, when the team is losing, when they’re not getting a lot of playing time, when it gets hard, when they’re not playing well.  Enthusiasm and passion are contagious, let’s encourage our female athletes to bring them every day.


This post was based on the article, 10 tips for girls on how to be aggressive in basketball, over on layups.com…check it out!

Teaching Our Female Athletes To Value Toughness

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One of the things I hear a lot from young players is they don’t enjoy their team experience.  Sometimes they’ll say they don’t like their coach, their team isn’t very good, but many times (too many!), in a moment of honesty, they’ll say their teammate’s are bitches or their coach is a bitch.  Usually, they’ll whisper that word…but they still say it.  I believe it’s our job, as coaches, to take this word out of their vocabulary.

Navigating the world of toughness and bitchiness is a life lesson we must teach our female athletes.  This post was inspired by this article from Fast Company.

4 ways we can help our women embrace toughness and success

  1. Be confident.  “No matter who you are in the world of business, there will be people who find your methods unattractive. That’s intimidating for anyone, male or female.”  Sometimes women make the mistake of thinking we can make everyone happy, this quotation says that when we stick to our guns and follow our morals, some folks will be upset by our behavior.  We’ve got to be confident enough in our tactics and our leadership styles that we can manage not always being well-liked.
  2. Learn to “speak guy”.  In her book, Gender & Competition—How Men and Women Approach Work and Play Differently, Kathy DeBoer talks about the differences in how men and women communicate.  One phrase stood out to me as I read the book: “Die before you cry.”  She explained that men don’t see tears as getting in touch with your emotions, but rather they see it as weak and out of control.  Don’t do it…at least at the office.  These are great lessons that will not only help our players on the court, but also in the real world.
  3. Embrace unpopularity.  Part of being the boss is being unpopular.  I often joke with coworkers who are chatting in my office that if I were the big dog, they’d be in someone’s office talking about what a bad job I was doing.  I think it’s important to acknowledge that we’re never happy with the boss…no matter how nice/understanding/amazing they are.  It’s the nature of the job.  What if we taught that lesson to our team captain’s so they’d be ready for the business world when they entered into it?
  4. Defining “bitch”.  “Assertive or competitive qualities are usually associated with men, and are thought to be essential for successful leaders. But for women, they can be a landmine.”  Being assertive and competitive are two of the qualities that will make women successful…on the field and off.  It’s also mislabeled as “bitchy”.  As the article says, if we’re being a mean and disrespectful person or if we’re elevating ourselves above our coworkers in a malicious way…then maybe we are being jerks and need to step back.  I hope my athletes never feel they have to apologize for being driven and goal-oriented.


Often, our athletes are afraid to lead because they have a bad stereotype in their heads about what a female leader looks like and how she acts.  Let’s help show them that women can be effective and successful leaders.