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By Colin Bennett, sports coach UK, Coaching Network Manager

You can’t coach with them and you can’t coach without them....

You may have noticed I’ve paraphrased an old saying about living with women to start my blog this month. Women you have to remember are from Venus and I’m from Mars or is that the other way round! So how could I, a mere bloke, ever contemplate coaching women, or to be more correct girls, to play football because I could never understand them – right?

And that’s the thing! I don’t need to do anything different than if I was coaching a boy’s team, a disabled team, an inner city team, an elite squad, a work’s team or in fact any type of team you could think up (just to put an end to me listing random teams!)

The process is exactly the same – who are your participants and what do they want from the session?

I have learnt during my coaching “life” to use all the resources available to me and there is a great deal of research that has been carried out on all manner of coaching. So in the case of coaching women I turned to http://www.sportscoachuk.org/resource/coaching-women-socially-inclusive-coaching which explained a few things that I needed to know.

For example I now put a bit of social time at the front and end of each session. I call it something else, such as a skills challenge where they can practice their keepy-uppys, but it’s generally time for the girls to catch up. And you know what? At the start of a session I get to put the cones out and prep the session without them sitting around getting cold. And a big plus is that we also have the best technical team in the league. At the end, after our cool down, “we” discuss the session but in truth I let them unwind whilst I put all my kit away. We’ve already talked about the session whilst we were working so they talk about stuff that made them laugh which leads to conversations about school and home and they go away with a smile on their face.

And no I’m not being patronising. I just understand my customer a lot better, I’ve done the market research and you know what, last summer I had 44 girls trying for 13 places. Enough for over 3 teams, word gets round and it’s not always about the results. The girls talk to each other on social media and at school and other places. The enjoyment of the session can be just as important as their development.

Ok so not patronising just trumpet blowing and I am guilty as charged of that offence!

If you want to coach and you’ve spent some hours learning the art then you can coach anyone you want so don’t be held back through your perceived barriers!

My one big goal now is that some of these young ladies start to come through the coaching pathway when they get towards the end of their school years. Too many “traditional” male sports are coached by men. In our division there are only two female coaches and women have been taking part in sport long enough now for that number to be ridiculously low. We should be seeing the female coaches coming through and bringing their considerable talents to the fore.

So to paraphrase an amazing woman, Delia Smith, “Come on women! Where are you? Let’s be getting you coaching!”

Women – it’s all about you!


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