Nearly 50 years ago, a federal civil rights bill was introduced as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Now widely known as Title IX – or the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act – the law stated:

“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

It was a revolutionary moment in U.S. history. It made clear the need to give female students of all ages an equal opportunity to not only participate, but excel in athletics. Today, women’s sports continue to evolve. And much of this evolution is thanks to the selfless dedication of coaches.

Title IX had just recently been enacted when I began my high school sports career. This proved to be very beneficial for me, as I went on to excel in athletics beyond high school. I was a Division 1 college athlete, a WNBA player, and now, an experienced coach across all levels, leagues and genders.

Coaching tips

I now have dozens of years of coaching experience under my belt. From youth leagues to the WNBA, to stints in the NBA, G League, and the newly established BIG3 where I’m Head Coach of the Power, I’ve done it all. During these experiences, I learned a lot about the differences between coaching men and women; boys and girls.

When it comes to coaching females, here are some tips:

1. Confidence

Skills and athleticism can only get athletes so far. For this reason, it’s crucial for coaches to help promote confidence in their players.

Confidence is very important to instill in young girls. It’s a huge quality that helps female athletes excel, both in and outside of their sport.

Consider trying constant positive affirmation, smart goal-setting or other psychological techniques. Additionally, try to experiment with other ways of support to help your athletes build resilience and succeed. Remember: Not everyone is the same!

2. Teamwork and leadership

Is it beneficial to inspire players to focus on their self-growth? Of course!

However, it’s equally as important to encourage lifetime values such as teamwork and leadership.

For female athletes, sports can help build leadership and teach girls how to work together as a team. It doesn’t matter if they’re a professional or amateur. Regardless, it’s important for them to believe in not only themselves, but also their teammates in order to achieve greatness, which every young woman should strive for.

More From Nancy Lieberman: 10 Team-Bonding Activities To Help Build Chemistry

3. Mentorship

As our society continues to progress socially and push for equality, coaches should do their best to be role models and mentors for their female players.

I find it especially important to inform the next generation of women of relevant statistics, recent laws, and really everything in between. This could include:

  • Details of the Equal Pay Act
  • Info about the low percentage of female CEOs in Corporate America in comparison to men, and how we’re pushing for continued growth
  • Documented wage differences between women and people of color, and their peers

In addition to mentoring their athletes, coaches should also encourage them to someday inspire the next generation. They need to know that it’s OK for them to be strong, confident, healthy female role models, and that they CAN do it!

4. Continued participation

Since Title IX was established, there has been a dramatic increase in athletic participation. However, many women still see sports as something they simply want to try or experiment with. This is why I recommend talking with players about continuing their athletic careers – the benefits can be lifelong!

On the same note, peer pressure is very difficult for girls of all ages. Being an athlete can help offset that. You can encourage them to participate in sports and a healthy, active lifestyle. Additionally, studies have shown that high school female athletes have more of a positive body image than non-athletes. Why not do your best to keep that going!


At BSN SPORTS, we realized there was a clear need to elevate women’s sports at all levels. From providing more support to coaches of female athletes, to connecting women working in the sports industry, we’re committed to doing our part. Because of this, we’ve made it a priority to uplift and empower women in sports through our key partnerships, programs and content.

Learn more about the other BSN SPORTS women’s initiatives here.

More From Nancy Lieberman: 6 Ways to Help Female Athletes Build Mental Toughness