A few weeks ago, I wrote a FB post about male coaches that “get it.” “Getting it” means understanding that their female athletes do not think like them, and advice that works for them doesn’t necessarily work for their female athletes. Although both men and women experience fear, pressure and doubts, women process it in a completely different way.
I heard a whirlwind of comments. I’m guessing that some of the comments that I 100% disagreed with were left by men that don’t know what I do, or know that I work one on one with quite a few of the women on the US National team. So, the information I give comes from a mix of the 14 year old trying to make Sectionals cuts all the way to our Olympic heroes with gold medals hanging around their necks. Or maybe they do, and they are just not going to budge with opening up their minds. But I’ve also been pleasantly surprised getting messages from some of the best male coaches in the country (that have coached female Olympians) humbling themselves and admitting they’ve made mistakes with their female athletes, and they want to get better. All of it has made me more passionate about sharing the “inside scoop” on the mind of a female athlete.
So, I’m excited to announce that I’ve decided to start a blog about the mind of the female athlete. I hope the posts will be educational and motivational for female athletes and coaches.
But first, I would like to say something about some of the comments that I read. Comments that in trying to prove their point, actually proved my point that there are coaches out there that still do not “get it”:
No. Telling your female athletes to think positive or have positive thoughts will not fix it.
No. Telling your female athletes to be excited instead of afraid will not fix it.
I was told that athletes are supposed to feel fear, it helps them. So, I guess I should just shut up and leave this be and move on. I guess there are no problems, right?
Here’s the deal; I do agree that a certain level of “nervousness” does help SOME with racing, but the terror that some of your female athletes are feeling are leaving them paralyzed and missing out on their potential. (BTW, that was written by a coach that told me I should have written, “some” male coaches don’t get it, not all.) Yep. Ok.
Telling your female athletes to morph fear into intensity does not help. And then I was asked, What happens when a gladiator is not emotionally invested in what HE is about to do? Yep. Ok. No comment.
And my favorite comment, athletes are coached to be afraid. So, FYI, that guy thinks that if you have athletes that are afraid, you’ve coached them to be that way, and it’s ALL your fault. Sorry to break that news to you. (Oh how I’d love the chance to go have some conversations with his athletes)
And oh yea, the cherry on top was finishing off that comment with a quote from Lou Holtz. Cuz you know Lou Holtz was always thinking about women when he spoke.
Every one of those comments proves the point I’m trying to make. You think like a man, and we are not men! You are trying to give advice from a man’s perspective, but we do not have a man’s perspective! You are thinking that what works for you works for your female athletes. It does not! WE DO NOT THINK LIKE YOU!!
And here’s the worst part of it. Every time you give your female athletes advice like that, they won’t be able to do it! Because again, we do not think like you. And when they can’t do it, they will wonder what is wrong with them. Why can’t I just “not think about it”? Why can’t I just “have positive thoughts”? Why can’t I “just morph my fear into intensity”? Why can’t I just get excited? What is wrong with me that I can’t do what my coach is telling me to do?
I can work my ass off in practice, I can kill it in drylands everyday, but I can’t do this. What is wrong with me?
And the reality is that the only thing wrong with them is that they are getting advice from a coach that has forgotten that women do not think like them!
And most importantly; when your female athlete can’t do what you’re telling them to do, they feel weak. And their confidence drops. And then we wonder why they have so little confidence behind the blocks. We wonder why they’re so afraid.
Wake up! Be aware enough, be open minded enough to realize that your female athletes do not think like you. That’s step one. And until we “get” step one, nothing is going to change. More steps to come on my blog.