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Coaches Zone

Vive la Difference!

Coaching kids is a challenge unto itself. To complicate matters even more, coaching techniques that work for girls teams don't necessarily work for boys, and vice versa. Most of the differences are in the approach, not the training. Adapt your style to your team, and head-off potential problems.

You're standing in front of one of your players before the big game, giving her the "win one for the Gipper" speech, the same one you've used successfully to rouse previous players to championship-level play. You've just spent your entire emotional reserve to make sure she's pumped up. You expect her to bound onto the field ready to play soccer at a higher level than ever before. She looks up at you at the end of your oration. You listen expectantly for the response that says she's bought in to your enthusiasm. "Coach, your shoe is untied."

If you've had the experience of coaching both boys and girls teams, you know the situation. The technical aspects of coaching are the same: passing, dribbling, shooting, defense, strategy. But the way you impart those critiques will contribute to your effectiveness as a coach and to how you are perceived by both players and parents. Challenging boys to play to a higher level is effective because boys are more likely to respond to an individual challenge. Girls sometimes view this same singling-out approach as criticism, and are likely to respond poorly to directed challenges. Girls will generally respond to the relationship with the coach. Getting to know them will help you motivate them in a gentler way. Using the same motivational techniques for girls that you use for boys will make them cry, quit, or hate you.

In both practice sessions and games, girls and boys will react differently to the same situations. Near the end of a tight game, for example, you may find your girls on the sideline organizing their next synchronized cheer. On the other hand, boys may be standing and yelling encouragement or directions to their teammates on the field. Each team is supporting their on-field teammates, but each group displays their support differently.

Girls tend to be more responsive and eager to learn. They will do almost anything you ask of them to become better players. Boys, especially the older ones, will want you to prove that you are a capable coach with expertise that surpasses their own before they will willingly listen to your coaching advice.

If as a coach your are frustrated when a team shows a lack of outward intensity, then you are likely going to be frustrated by coaching a girls team. Girls' intensity is demonstrated far differently than boys. To make the successful transition, you will need to find out where girls react differently than boys. Remember, girls are just as capable of displaying skill, determination, intensity, and teamwork, they just won't demonstrate it in the same way. As a coach, you must be able to adapt your style to the team you are coaching regardless of the gender. But you'll make it easier on yourself, your team, and the parents if you recognize that there are differences to consider when coaching boys or girls.


  • Motivational challenges work well
  • Players are more Individual
  • Occasional encouragement
  • Relationship with Coach is more Distant, one-way
  • Coach Must Demonstrate Knowledge and Expertise

  • Gentler interchange between coach and player
  • Relationships with Team Members are important
  • Continuous encouragement
  • Coach/Player relationship is interactive
  • Players are eager to learn from the outset