Coaching Football's "Little Things"

Developing a Consistently Successful Football Program

Girls vs. Guys!

Posted by admin July - 28 - 2020 - Tuesday

Because of the “virus scare” and the closing of the fitness center where I worked out, I bought a Beach Cruiser bicycle a few months ago and have been riding a couple of miles each day through my community. It led me to meeting a neighbor who is a former Ice Hockey star. We’ve bumped into each other several times and yesterday we got to talking about coaching.

Now that he’s retired, he’s coached both his daughter and his son in various sports. He shared something that really “jumped out” at me when he said it. Let me share it and then…. YOU think about the impact of it for a minute. What he said was:

The difference between coaching guys and girls is… guys “play well and feel good about themselves” while girls have to “feel good and then they play well!”


I attempted to coach my daughter in both softball and basketball when she was young. I found it very frustrating. I could not “reach” the girls the way I was “reaching” the guys whom I coached. Flashing back on those futile attempts to coach girls sports occurred as my neighbor uttered those words. “That’s it! He’s right!” I found that if I fussed at the girls or sternly corrected them, they shut down! But… when I encouraged them or (gulp!) laughed with them over a mistake, they responded positively! *”There’s no crying in baseball!” and… there’s no laughing in football coaching!” LOL!

Those of you who read this blog are more than likely coaching guys. So let’s unpack the male side of my friend’s statement. It will shed some light on why I’ve stressed for years that we have to be properly prepared so that we perform at peak performance on game night. Remember: Guys “play well and feel good about themselves.” Why is this so?

First, guys and girls are simply “wired differently.” It’s the way God made us. (Look it up in the Bible… it’s right there in the first chapters of Genesis!) Not that girls aren’t competitive but guys just seem to take it more personally when they lose. I think it’s the competitive spirit that our society infuses into the male ego. As I’ve heard Joe Erhmann speak, he says that “guys compare and compete.” We look at others and accept the challenge to look/perform better. Guys simply feel better about themselves when they win!!!

As coaches, then, it is imperative to strive to bring out the best in our male athletes. Most of them want to be pushed. Guys need encouragement too; but, making corrections and fussing at them when they don’t hustle (one of my pet peeves when I coached!) is almost expected. We need to prepare them properly so they play well. They play well… they usually win! This is why I talked to my teams constantly about “eliminating mistakes.” The team that has the least turn-overs usually wins. I harped on not committing foolish penalties. I stressed execution. It was more important to stop practice and correct a mistake than getting a bunch of plays run before the period ended. If we could out-hustle and out-execute our opponents then our chances to win increased tremendously.

When guys “play better, they feel better.” When they feel better, they subsequently play with more confidence. When they play with more confidence, they play with more vigor. You find that the snowball gets rolling and the momentum that’s built leads to a program that is consistently successful. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden used to say, “I don’t worry too much about my opponent. I focus on preparing MY players… prepare them to compete and execute. Don’t worry about the outcome (winning or losing); focus on correcting mistakes.” Nick Saban has taken this philosophy and created his “process.” It’s worked pretty well for him! You should consider doing the same thing.

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