Do you treat boys and girls the same when you coach them Rugby?
This was a question that was recently asked in our Forum section. It is an interesting question since some coaches feel you should always treat players the same and so avoid any suggestion of favouritism.
However, there is no doubt that girls and boys learn differently and so shouldn’t we alter our coaching to suit?
Here are a few tips and suggestions from Susan Carty, the IRB’s Women’s Development Manager:
It is worth noting that boys and girls are more similar than they are different.Reasons why they play are similar, to have fun, improve at sport, learn new sports and be competitive, fitness and make friends. The sport of Rugby is the same; the Laws don’t change when coaching girls. Here we will help you consider what is different about coaching girls and give you some tips and advice.
What to expect from girls: :
• Girls tend to be more analytical: They don’t take things on face value, they want to know why they should do things in certain ways and will ask more questions to gain an understanding before doing.
• Team unity is important to them..
• Stronger team players and tend to follow rules better.
• Fair play is important to them.
• Girls have a tendency to blame themselves for poor performances and tend to be self-critical.
• While winning is important to girls also, an over emphasis on winning can have a negative impact on their participation and development in the sport. This does not mean they want to win less or are less competitive.
• They tend to be consistent, teamwork-orientated, de-emphasise importance of individual players.
• Females tend to be very committed in sport, eager to learn and progress.
Some tips :
• A people orientated, democratic approach works best.
• Coaches should focus on relationships among players.
• Encouragement and positive reinforcement from the coach is a necessity.
• More interaction between coach and players.
• Girls tend to be more internally motivated by self improvement and goals related to team success and appear more motivated by a co-operative, caring and sharing team environment. Include the player in decision-making, setting goals,etc.
• Girls tend to want to discuss more. Allowing this, while maintaining control,often results in greater understanding when carrying out the particular drill or exercise..
• Conversation and dialogue with the player is important. This strengthens their motivation for learning, prevents the player becoming disinterested and promotes a sense of taking responsibility in the player.
Give positive feedback
• Negative feedback can destroy self-confidence.
• Good advice is positive but too much can be a strain.
• Girls to a greater extent than boys need to know why things are to be done this way and not that. They will ask questions to get a better understanding;sometimes this can be challenging for a coach or may feel that their coaching technique is being questioned.
• The coach needs to listen to questions and answer in a way that is age apt for the player.
• Girls can be vulnerable and can react more emotionally to criticism.
• They can also be more critical of themselves, both on a personal level and a performance level. Feedback from coaches should aim to strengthen what is already good rather than solely focusing on correcting a weakness.
• Girls need physical touch from adults as long it is in a clean, clearly defined and understood coaching role with no sexual undertones.
• Some appropriate physical touches include a nudge on the arm, a hug from the side with your arm across her upper back/shoulder or high 5.
Be open and direct with solving conflicts
• The coach should notice as early as possible signals that indicate conflict.
• Be direct, open and honest when seeking to solve it.
• Girls do not always say what is on their minds, leading to sulking and talking behind back.
• Asking questions early, being open and accepting of responses can prevent further problems.
Spread humour and happiness
• It seems fear of not performing well is more common in girls.
• Humour is effective in reducing stress levels and therefore influencing theplayer’s level of tension in a positive way.
• Some coaches claim humour and happiness are the most important tools that the coach has as a means of building motivation in all player development.