How coaches are adapting methods to teaching girls in sports and why it's necessary - InfoNews

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How coaches are adapting methods to teaching girls in sports and why it's necessary

The Kamloops Youth Soccer Association organized two workshops for coaches and sports administrators in the community on how to better train female athletes, earlier this week.
Image Credit: SUBMIITTED/ Candace Dodson-Willis
May 30, 2018 - 8:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - About eight years ago Candace Dodson-Willis began coaching her daughter's soccer team after only coaching boys.

The Kamloops mother and sports coach noticed how her teaching techniques began to adapt to better help her daughter and other young female athletes.

“When I first started coaching for my daughter’s soccer team about seven or eight years ago, I just fell in love with working with girls,” she explains. “If you tell a boy to 'try harder' he’s going to go hard, but for girls, they need specifics and they want more information.”

Dodson-Willis, who is currently the Kamloops Youth Soccer Association president, says in her experience as a coach she has found that young female athletes require more mental and emotional support from their coaches.

The Kamloops Youth Soccer Association held a gender gap training workshop for coaches and sports administrators in Kamloops this past weekend to talk about how coaches can better train young girls in sports.

"We really wanted to address gender gap issues in sports, specifically referring to girls between the ages of 8 and 12,” Dodson-Willis says. “If we can get our coaches to understand that we need to support the mental and emotional side of things, girls will perform at higher levels.”

She explained how yelling and harsh feedback from coaches to young female athletes can cause self-doubt that’s hard to repair.

"Once you go down a rabbit hole with that girl, it's really hard to come back up," she says. “If you yell at girls or make them feel bad in front of their peers, you’re going to lose them."

Dodson-Willis says the workshop also focused on how coaches can establish healthy relationships with their female athletes including different ways to make their players feel accepted.

"Providing a climate that is accepting and rewarding will make players feel supported," she says. "We want to give proper training to coaches so we can level out the playing field."

Dodson-Willis says one of her goals with the workshop training is to prevent young girls from dropping out of sports because they don’t feel like they belong.

“What we learned from the research is that there is a lack of confidence with girls,” Dodson-Willis says. “There’s a lot of girls that drop out of sports and it’s a big epidemic because sports can teach you so much.”

According to viaSport British Columbia, one of the partners at the gender gap workshop, female athletes are underrepresented in sports. According to the organization, only 19 per cent of Canadian women participate in sports compared to 35 per cent of men involved with sports.

The workshop that took place this past weekend was attended by 26 coaches and sports administrators in Kamloops. The funding for the workshop was granted by the provincial government and held by Sports for Life, viaSport British Columbia, and Kidsport Victoria.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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