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Being coached by a female – did it make a difference?

By Nicola Beattie, sports coach UK, Development Lead Officer

When I think of my experience in sport, I have been coached by both male and female coaches in hockey and previously athletics. I have found myself reflecting on these coaches and believe I have developed further under the female coaches I have been coached by. Of course this is not based on anything other than my own perception and there are probably a number of factors in play... However in light of International Women’s Day I wanted to share from a player’s point of view what I have enjoyed about the female coaches I have been coached by.

Ability to build confidence in players and knowing when they need more support. I feel the female coaches I have experienced have been able to empathise more with players when situations arise and that has helped them continually get the best of the players. One coach in particular realised when certain players were under confident and took extra steps to support them in training and during games.

Knowing when to let players chat and when they need to knuckle down to hard work. My current coach understands that we enjoy the social side as well as the competition and she lets us have our warm up to catch up on the weekly gossip, before we start on the technical and tactical work! Being part of a team is one of the reasons I play. This season my coach and captain has helped us all connect better on and off the pitch through a regular WhatsApp chat group and enhanced use of social media.

Creating a connection. I have already mentioned the word connection and the female coaches I have worked with have taken the time to get to know us as individuals and find out what motivates us. They have taken the time to find out why we turn up week in week out? Do we have aspirations to be in the first team? Do we turn up because we want to see our friends, or are we trying to get fit and lose weight? Participant aspirations can change over time and the female coaches I have been coached by have kept a grip on that. When I started hockey, I was going back to a sport I wanted to try again after a period away. Now I want to play at competitive level and keep improving, but I also enjoy being part of a team and my coach knows that.

A role model. Although I believe that not all coaches need to be good players my current coach was a talented player and therefore has credential amongst some players at our club. That being said new players to the club wouldn’t necessarily know her history but they get swept up by the enthusiasm, fun and knowledge she brings to the sessions.

Showing they care. The female coaches I have worked with have shown a genuine interest in how all the teams perform each week and how all the players are. Whether a team is fighting for a top spot in the league, or maybe a player is facing injury the coaches I have worked with have shown empathy and positivity in handling different situations that arise.

What I have described is perhaps just elements of good coaching in terms of personal and social skills that I am sure all coaches would want to be able to do. So that is not to say any other coach could not do the above but I wanted to share my perceptions of what I have enjoyed about being coached by coaches who happen to be female!

What experiences do you have of being coached by a female? Put your thoughts in the comments box below.

For more information on our latest research about women in qualifications, which also looks at the importance of confidence to female coaches and the need for more role models in women’s sport, click here