Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Girls & Boys: Taking Gender Into Account
October 30th, 2008 6:30PM
Subscribe to Youth Soccer Insider

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Emily Cohen

My daughter comes bursting through the door after soccer practice and exclaims, "Mom! We had so much fun! Maya and Natalie and I got to be on the same team!" "Did you win?" I ask. She replies, "I have no idea."

What a difference that is from when my son comes home from practice or, even more so, from a game. He can recite every well-executed play and missed opportunity in excruciating detail. But when I ask whether his best friend was on his team for the scrimmage, he replies, "No, but who cares? My team won!"
In a nutshell, these two scenarios capture the essence of how boys and girls approach sports differently. Of course, there are always exceptions -- the supercompetitive girl, the boy who would rather sit on the bench and chat with his buddy than be on the playing field -- but, in general, most of the coaches and parents I talked with agreed: For girls, the social interaction and the experience of being on a team with friends is No. 1. And for boys, it's much more about the end result.

So how can coaches apply this conventional wisdom to improve their coaching -- and get the best out of their players, whether they be girls or boys? Here's what I heard from a few longtime coaches who have successfully coached both genders, from elementary through high school.

Work withnot against the innate gender differences

Girls are more concerned about having their friends on their team rather than winning. Sure, they like to win, but it's more important if they do so while playing with their friends. As one longtime coach told me, "I've never had to tell the boys to stop holding hands during practice, but I have had to ask them to quit jumping on each other or wrestling."

Given this, when you divvy up your team for squads, make sure you put at least two girls who are buddies together from the get-go, and you'll avoid the whining about who's on whose team later on. Boys -- because they're concerned more with winning -- won't worry about friendships on the team, but will worry about "fairness" or the "evenness" of the teams athletically.

Encourage the natural strengths and develop the weaknesses of each gender

Girls are experiential and process-oriented. You'll see that girls work just as hard as -- or even harder than -- the boys, but the girls care more about the overall effort than simply counting the numbers in the win and loss columns. With girls, if you spend time talking about their improvements, they'll work even harder and you'll quickly see a direct correlation to the overall win/loss record.

On the other hand, boys are much more results-oriented. It's not that they can't be focused on the journey, it's just that their DNA is geared toward winning and losing. With boys, you need to guide them to put effort into improving skills and getting something out of the experience -- encouraging them to understand that the journey, not just the number of Ws, is the reward.

Resolve problems collaboratively for girls, one-on-one for boys

Girls and boys approach problem-solving differently. Because of this, when you have an issue with a specific player -- or there's a problem with the team dynamic -- you should take gender into account.

With girls, yelling simply doesn't work. Coaches who approach girls as they would boys find this out the hard way. When you are upset with the attitude or effort of your female players, the best way to handle it is with a team meeting. Start by asking themwhat they think the problem is. Nine times out of 10, the girls will have already pinpointed the problem and have several solutions to propose. Girls work things out collaboratively -- as a team. It might be painful, but the results you see in the end will be worth it.

In contrast, boys need to be listened to and heard. If a boy on your team is acting out or needs help focusing, you should address it with the player, one-on-one, clear the air, and move on. You might have to get the boy's attention by raising your voice and making an example of him in front of his peers, but once you do, and you clearly explain your expectations, you should be on your way to a better team dynamic.

(Emily Cohenis a freelance writer living in Berkeley, Calif. She is the mother of a son, 12, and a daughter, 9, who both play multiple sports. She has been a team manager for her children's soccer, baseball and softball teams.)



0 comments

  1. commented on: December 25, 2008 at 10:29 p.m.
    Great post, Thank you for sharing,

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Tips for attending a college ID camp    
With summer being a popular time for young players to attend College ID camps, we've asked ...
Gottschee and FC Dallas take No. 1 seeds into Development Academy playoffs    
FC Dallas and BW Gottschee of Queens, New York, are the No. 1 seeds in the ...
Teen stars sign with MLS clubs    
In the wake of Atlanta United, set to begin MLS play in 2017, signing 15-year-old Andrew ...
How refs deal with trash-talking    
"Look at the scoreboard" and "You got nothing" are two common things that trash-talking players say.
Does American soccer really only work for white kids?    
Les Carpenter's article for the London-based Guardian on American youth soccer is headlined: "'It's only working ...
Changing the Canvas: Finding Inspiration Outside of our Beautiful Game    
My wife is a developmental psychologist. For two decades she has been studying children and the ...
'Toughest World Cup yet' awaits U.S. U-17 girls    
The USA will face Paraguay, Ghana and defending champion Japan in the first round of 2016 ...
John Hackworth: India experience provides valuable lessons for U.S. U-17 boys    
In its third international tournament of the year, the U.S. U-17 boys national team finished runner-up ...
Adding to the alphabet soup of American youth soccer    
If your children play soccer in the USA, they may be playing under the umbrella of ...
Insights on European scouting of U.S. youngsters by 'Arsenal Yankee' Danny Karbassiyoon    
Daniel Karbassiyoon jokes that Arsenal kept him from going to college twice. The first time, at ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives