Coaching Through a “Gender Lens” May Reveal Myths That Hinder Female Athletes: A Multistudy Investigation

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom
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The purpose of this multistudy paper was to explore (a) the coaching behaviors of male coaches when coaching either male or female teams through a systematic observation (Study 1) and (b) male and female coaches’ reasons for employing certain behaviors and practices when coaching female athletes through semistructured interviews (Study 2). Collectively, the findings of these two studies highlighted that coaches, either consciously or unconsciously, use a “gender lens” to coach their athletes. Study 1 findings showed that male coaches organize practice sessions (e.g., longer sessions for female than male athletes) and manifest coaching behaviors (e.g., more reinforcement for female than male athletes) that are different depending on whether they coach teams that comprise male or female athletes. Study 2 findings revealed gender biases in the approaches and styles coaches employed to coach their female and male athletes, suggesting that such methods could be limiting female athletes’ physical, social-emotional, and psychological development. This multistudy paper discusses how coaches’ good intentions to coach effectively can fall short and into a trap of gender stereotypes, leading to coaching the gender of the athletes as opposed to coaching each one athlete as an individual. The implications of these findings for practice are discussed.

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