No doubt, parents play a significant role in kids' sports programs. But too often, men are the ones doing the coaching while women are on the sidelines. We think this should change. There are many reasons why more mothers should coach youth sports.
How prevalent is the lack of women in youth sports? According to a recent study, women coach between six and 13% of youth sports teams. The numbers of women coaches are lower for boys and co-ed teams, and higher for girls-only programs. Also, women are more likely to coach younger-age players.
If you're a female athlete or have a passion for any sport, you should consider becoming a coach. Youth coaching can be extremely rewarding--and you can make a positive difference in kids' lives. Here are three reasons for any mother who loves sports should think about coaching youth teams.
#1 Demonstrate Women's Leadership Capabilities
Women are often involved in sports in a "team mom" role. Although the work these moms do is critical for team success, it's usually an unappreciated job. In fact, team moms may handle tasks like parent coordination and have little visibility to young players.
What happens when young people only have experience with dads as coaches and mothers as "team moms"? Unfortunately, this can shape their perceptions of gender norms and roles. They may internalize the message that men are leaders, while women play support roles.
According to author and blogger, KJ Dell'Antonia, women coaches provide an example of women's leadership capabilities to youth:
"When women coach, we show young boys and girls another woman in a leadership role outside the classroom. We set a great example for our girls, in particular, by reminding them that their future life in sport doesn’t have to be in an organizational role."
An example of women's leadership makes a difference beyond sports as well. More girls can look up to a woman coach and start to envision themselves as leaders in professional roles. And the business world has more women business leaders than ever before. Recent stats show that 87% of global businesses have at least one woman in senior leadership.
#2: Bring New Skill Sets to the Game
Although everyone's personalities differ, women and men do typically bring different qualities to their interactions with youth. Having a female coach can give young athletes new insights to help them grow.
Often, mothers take on the role of nurturer in their families. They are quick to sense when something is troubling a child. And moms often develop strong communication skills and can relate to kids in a caring way. In sports, these skills can translate to an open and approachable female coach.
Also, because mothers are more nurturing, they may focus on sports as a way to build character. Mothers are often good at helping kids find the positive "silver lining" in any experience and encouraging teamwork and fair play.
While women can work just as hard and be just as analytical as men, they may bring different skills to the table. Female coaches can make a sports experience positive and motivational for kids.
#3: Keep Girls Engaged in Sports
Youth sports participation declines as kids get older. But girls leave sports at twice the rate that boys do by age 14, according to the Women's Sports Foundation (WSF). One reason, according to WSF, is less opportunity to play high school sports. But WSF notes that a lack of role models is another factor.
Also, research has found that positive coaching is one of the top #3 reasons girls stick with sports. Girls like coaches that provide positive feedback and encouragement, treat them with respect, and communicate well. They also appreciate friendly coaches who know a lot about their sport. Clearly, women coaches can fulfill these needs of young female athletes just as well as--if not better than--male coaches.
Increasing the amount of female coaches can be a great way to increase sports participation.
Why More Mothers Should Coach Youth Sports: Making a Difference for Our Kids
Women comprise over half of the world's population--but only a small fraction of youth sports coaches. Yes, many mothers are instrumental in ensuring their kids participate in sports. But it is time for more moms to step into coaching roles.
All kids benefit when they are exposed to diverse experiences and leadership styles. When young people view women as leaders in sports, they start to learn that women can be leaders anywhere. This understanding can motivate girls to have high career aspirations and help boys see the value of working with or for women leaders.
Often, women bring different qualities to coaching than men do. Some skills mothers use at home to encourage and motivate kids can benefit young athletes too. Women can be adept at encouraging fair play and supporting kids emotionally. But they can be talented athletes and coaches as well.
Still, it's essential to keep in mind that women can be as tough and competitive as men. Having more women coaches will help young people see through common gender stereotypes and see the best in all people.