There are physiological and developmental differences between coaching girls versus boy’s youth athletic teams. Nothing is ever set in stone for there are often exceptions to every the rule, but there are some standards in the way coaches teach the different genders the sport of basketball. Most of the time little boys tend to be competitive and into the physicality of the sport before little girls.

In general children will respond to positive encouragement and the need for adult approval to begin to do well in practice at young ages like 4-6 years old. But as children begin to develop enough skills to play the game competitively one will find that girls bond differently than boys while learning. Little girls often want to be friends in the way this would naturally occur while playing dolls or making crafts. They share the experience together and bond over each other’s successes. Little boys bond through the thrill of competition and being the best. Although little girls enjoy being good at something they often will help the other girls on the team to develop their skills to be at their own personal best as well. Some little girls will even stop doing the very best to not make others feel bad.

As a coach you will have to teach your youth athletes that they must not hold back their personal best just because of someone else’s opinion or feelings. Little boys will seek out whichever of them is the best and then follow that alpha male’s lead. Little girls will often have to be coaxed into participating in competition and made to develop the self esteem needed to shine above the rest. This skill will need to be developed for later competition when one cannot feel bad and not do ones best if the opposing team is losing. These observations are in no way meant to be sexist and please note that this is just a sampling of the general experiences gathered from coaches from around the world. Girls tend to be more verbal than boys during their formative years. Little boys will learn more by doing the activity after it is shown to them while little girls may need to talk about the activity first.

Children will be children who are full of surprises, similarities, differences, and coaches may have to use different techniques for different groups. Generalizations can be dangerous so in general one must truly learn each individual child’s make-up, thought process for learning, and the developmental needs so that the child is successful. Also the sub cultures that the children are being raised in will also determine how the child learns. What is being taught at home and how the parents relate to their child will also set a standard for how the child will behave within the dynamics of your team.

It is always good to hold team discussions on how your children think they should complete any given drill or task so that you can clear up any misconceptions or questions. Little boys tend to keep their emotions and discussions to a minimum while learning. You may need to develop a system to help your child athletes, especially your little boys, to emote and relieve the stress that builds up when participating in a competitive sport.

Picture credit: The Suss-Man (Mike) Creative Commons Attribution

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