Nearly 50 years ago, a federal civil rights bill – now known as Title IX – was signed into law as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. Also known as 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.
When I began my high school sports career, Title IX had just recently been enacted. This proved to be very beneficial for me, as I went on to excel as one of the top college athletes, an WNBA player, and now, an accomplished coach across all levels, leagues and genders.
With dozens of years of coaching experience – 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 learned a lot about the differences between coaching men and women, and boys and girls. When it comes to coaching females.
Here are some tips:
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.
Whether it’s constant positive affirmation, smart goal-setting or other psychological techniques, try to experiment with different ways of support to help your athletes build resilience and succeed. Remember: Not everyone is the same!
2. Teamwork and leadership
While it’s beneficial to inspire players to focus on their self-growth, I think 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 you’re a professional or amateur – 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.
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
- Disappointing wage differences that have been statistically documented 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
Although participation in athletics has dramatically increased since Title IX was established, many women still see sports as something they simply want to try out 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, as you can encourage them to participate in sports and a healthy, active lifestyle. Studies have shown that high school female athletes have more of a positive body image than non-athletes, so why not do your best to keep that going!
BSN SPORTS Women
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. 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.