Opinion | Why Women Should Coach Men’s Sports

(Molly Magnell, Washington Post)
(Molly Magnell, Washington Post)


Abby Braiman is a youth flag football coach in Los Angeles and Head of Marketing for MOJO, a sports company and app that supports the work of youth coaches.

“Coach Abbey, why are you a girl?”

This was the first question seven-year-old Cameron asked me at his first flag football practice. I suspected all the boys who were his teammates were wondering the same thing, his mother later said he asked his father about it too .

Like most kids in sports, Cameron had never had a female coach. Women take leadership roles in professional leagues such as Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League, but in youth sports, where coaches are primarily volunteers, more than 70% of her coaches are men. Also, only 2% of the men’s teams are coached by women.

This is a problem for society. Because that means we are not exposing boys to female leadership in one of the most formative environments where boys are responsible for adults.

Why don’t you coach more women? For mothers, the workload of household chores, including the effort of managing their children’s lives, is often already out of balance. They simply don’t have the energy or the time. But as someone who coaches kids in multiple sports and whose daily routine is to make youth sports coaching easier and more accessible, I’ll add a more insidious reason: Women are always welcome. It does not mean that

We expect men to be involved in children’s sports. However, men are more likely than women to claim sports expertise.In youth sports, this is often false expertise. In reality, less than 10% of such coaches have proper training.

This doesn’t stop men from letting me know how they feel about how I work. , instead of asking why I was coaching, I got an email saying I was “lacking professionalism”. A few weeks later, even though our team had finally made it to the playoffs, another father yelled at me on the sidelines that he “didn’t have what it took to win.”

After these interactions, I asked myself more times than I would admit if I was qualified.

Sports have been an integral part of my life. My father is a former National Junior Olympic bronze medalist diver, and Title IX turned my mother into a competitive soccer player. She helped coach my youth soccer team. In college, I was a Division I cross-country and track runner. For most of my life as a young adult, I have coached children while playing sports.

I got my current job. When I believe in helping coaches and players to be their best. Still, because I am a woman, I have been judged and disrespected by my father.

As a woman, I certainly tend to prefer a different style of coaching. I’m here. Encourage children to speak up when they have questions or ideas.

My approach resonates with many moms on the team. Some said they appreciated me not yelling at my kids and appreciated a “good coaching moment.” She resented her husband for working at his own pace.

My method has also attracted interest from other coaches in the league. Some people look at me and imitate my explanation. A former NBA star coach asked how he taught a 6-year-old to run inside reverse.

I’m not advocating that there should be fewer male coaches. Given the coaching deficit in youth sports, many adults need to step up. Women are eligible. Moreover, they belong on the field. This means not only recruiting and encouraging female coaches, but building a community that supports women.

The day will come when the boys I mentor will become men and work alongside women.I hope the time spent with me as a child will help them become better adults. .

Cameron finished the season as the top scorer and improved significantly as an evasive player. More importantly, he learned the value of rooting for his teammates and taking turns. And I learned that being a top scorer is not the same as being a good team player.

At the end of the previous game (playoff loss), he and his teammates ended the season with a final cheer to celebrate the day, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

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