Last week Ralph presented some of our research on the psychological, biological, and physical differences between female and male athletes as it relates to their youth development. This is the second year that we presented at the NSCAA Convention (last year we shared our research on pitfalls in the female soccer player development). I wanted to share a few key points from our research with you. For a copy of the full presentation, please contact us by going to the Contact page.

  • Empathy is a more important trait for coaches when coaching girls than for boys.   In general, girls are more sensitive to nuances in social interactions, and are more likely to withdraw or stalk away when they are confronted aggressively.
  • The rate of physical development between girls and boys differs in a way that it impacts their soccer commitment.   Girls usually begin puberty at an earlier age than boys and the physiological changes occuring during puberty amplify emotional reactivity.  Furthermore, during this time girls begin to take an emerging interest in adult-like social activities, which can detract from soccer commitment.  Therefore, it’s important for coaches to ensure all girls on the team feel a part of the team and the community.

After identifying some of the key differences and issues, we discussed tactics to improve the coach-athlete relationship and sustain their motivation.   We advocated the R.U.L.E. principle, which is actually a principle common in health intervention and used by many medical professionals.  R.U.L.E. stands for Resist the Righting Reflex, Understand the Person’s (Athlete’s) perspective, Listen, and Empower.

For the full presentation or more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.   We love this stuff and it’s part of our mission to continue studying how to help coaches coach and improve their athletes’ development as youth both inside and outside of the game of soccer.