There are not many women coaching athletes. I’m not teaching you anything new there. But why is that?
Besides regular machoism and old boys networks, confidence is key here. But before moving on to confidence, let me first salute all the men I have been coaching over the years! It seems you guys are true pioneers for taking me on!!
If you are reading this – thank you! I have loved working with you!
Okay, the truth is, I never thought about me being a woman as being a minus. (I know it must have looked funny on the Europa Cup back in the days, though – me coaching my 2m+ tall athlete). But being a woman coaching a man didn’t even com up in my mind. I had more experience and knowledge than him, so I thought of myself as an obvious choice for him.
As a ski coach in moguls, I was totally confident in my strengths in skiing technique, in explaining, encouraging and in my experience with world class competition. But I also knew other people would be better for helping with jumps and tricks once we got to a certain level – so I would ask for help on that.
In conditioning, I have actually coached way more men than women when I do the counting. Again, I attribute this to confidence. I have lived that stuff, I have studied it and it just seems natural for me. When I need to, I study more and I’m passionate. I have seen myself as the obvious choice for these guys.
But I have to admit that the guys taking me on are brave! (-And of course smart 😉 ).
Because – the simple fact that I’m a woman -makes me SO NOT the obvious choice. Fortunately, I have always been to naive to think about that.
– And now I have actually come to believe that I have many advantages being a woman.
I guess my point is, we cannot focus on our disadvantages when we want to succeed. In competitive sports of all places we know this.
From a mindset point of view I think there is one thing in particular that would help if we changed. In general, we tend to depend too much on being encouraged in order to go for something – yes, myself fully included. We can call it the “being asked out on the dance floor” syndrome.
I know many doors are indeed locked from both sides and it is still so that we are not the obvious choice – so we have to be more proactive, more visible and better at showing our skills. Fair or not fair – that’s how judged competition works. Let’s go girls.
Thanks to Champion Women and The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport for putting our attention to this issue.