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Different but equal: Why understanding the female mind is a must for male coaches | Inclusive Coaching | ConnectedCoaches

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Home » Groups » Inclusive Coaching » blogs » Blake Richardson » Different but equal: Why understanding the female mind is a must for male coaches
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Emma Tomlinson, Sukh Mishra and 1 other like this.

Comments (4)


Excellent article, it's amazing how females are labelled when choosing a particular sport. When I was working in local schools coaching PE I was once asked from a years 6 boy, " Miss are you lesbian?". My reply "no!" It just goes to show that even young people without knowing can assume that all women in sports are Lesbian. Maybe its time to change the mindset the younger generation of coaches coming through to a more positive towards female in sports and as coaches.

On the female side, the links forming the circle are super important and everyone must feel as if they belong equally in the team. They don’t want to feel as if they are outside that circle. They want to win as a team. Put a player on the spot she will not feel comfortable and probably she will not perform as well.’

 · Rob Maaye and Blake Richardson like this.
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Roger Kaye said:

As I coach a women's cricket team there are some really interesting and thought provoking points in this. Paricularly the example of how the volleyball teams reacted, as well as the circle and triangle comments. That's going to need a bit more reading into and thinking about.

 · Emma Tomlinson, Andrew Beaven and 1 other like this.
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Andrew Beaven said:

I also coach some female cricketers, but as this is mostly 1-to-1s I don’t get to see the team dynamic.

I wonder how the “circle” can be completed in individual sports (or sports like cricket that comprise 1-on-1 contests between bat and ball) that do expose the individual athlete at the point of the triangle.

I did get to hear Paul Shaw, former coach of the England Women’s team, speak at the ECB CA conference (I think you were there, Roger?), and it was perhaps significant that he emphasised the importance of the team environment and building connections.

 · Emma Tomlinson likes this.
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Ralph Samwell said:

‘Different but equal’ reminds me of the phrase, “I’m more equal than you.”

There is no cognitive neurological evidence that your experience of eating an orange is the same as anyone else’s and plenty of SPECT brain analysis that it IS different. This makes sense; eating is more than just chewing. We eat with our eyes, we taste with our emotions, we smell with our motivations, all these differences have an effect upon, our perception of, and interpretation of, that orange. The orange might be the same, but the person certainly isn’t.
Understanding the female mind? We barely understand ourselves let alone anyone else and arrogant to think we can. Can we really compare apples and oranges? They have a lot of similarities, yet recent DNA analysis finds women are fundamentally more different from men than we realised.
There are fundamental differences and men and women should be treated differently.
Menarche issues means girls need to be trained differently to boys.
Women are not ‘one of the lads’ and would be shocked at what the lads get up to; men are not one of the ladies and would be shocked at what the women get up to.
What balances men and women out, is each other!
‘Understanding’ is the wrong word and the wrong direction.

Lumping sexes into boxes, is an over simplification reductionist theory that has been largely disproved. Look where the article comes from; a University professor, their job is to categories, they are paid to look for social norms categorising humans into graphs and charts, thus ignoring individuality and the unique expression of the whole.
There are similes where we can get an approximation of what the other person is going through but never understanding, we would have to BE them, to understand them.
And I’m not up for a sex change just yet. Not a day goes by when I’m not glad I’m a guy, the terrible stuff women have to go through [mostly at the hands of insecure men]. Yet we also find a physical and mental strength in some women that some male athletes would never obtain. And as we should know, many men have used the ‘difference in women as an excuse to subjugate women.’ Just as the British Empire uses the divide and rule.

My point is; ‘we love to categorise’; because it makes it simple for idiots to think they ‘understand’, complexity. We separate the human skeleton into 6 types of bone; so ridiculous that the ones left over from long, short, flat, cubed, and round are called the innominate bones, they get put into their own category. Innominate means the bone with no name because their shape is irregular. In other words, they are unique and can’t be categorised. This is important for coaches because in asymmetrical sports, the left tibia is fundamentally different from the right, and so one can’t even train the left shin with the right shin in the same way. They are not equal; it’s not as simple as ‘different but equal.’
As soon as we generalise there are major problems, that’s why there is no such thing as normal, [you’ve all heard of the Burton suit that fits nobody? It should fit someone, it’s the average Man] in fact statistically if you find someone that by all measurements is the Norm, they by definition they are abnormal because the overwhelming majority of people are not exactly in the middle. “The median is not the message.” As Steven Jay Gould, would say.

It’s not about lumping everyone into two boxes. The article above is right, in that men and women can be different BUT it is wrong in that separating men and women into two boxes to understand them is the answer. Because some men and women are not that different and others are worlds apart. I’ve coached men fully in touch with their feminine side and women fully in touch with their masculine side. It’s called genetic variant and biodiversity or as David Attenborough calls it, ‘The mutant planet’ as most high level athletes are genetic freaks.

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus? New brain study says not. Brain scans show “we need to think beyond an individual’s sex as each brain has unique “mosaic” of sex-based features plus some common to both sexes.” Says Michael Bloomfield, a psychiatrist at University College London. So this Demer’s article is woefully out of date. The dropout rate for boys is also high; are women coaches to blame for not understanding boys?
It DOES have to be competitive otherwise it’s not sport, and the implication boys don’t need ‘friends and social bonding’ to avoid dropout, is ridiculous and sexist. Boys also will cry for inexplicable reasons and talk incessantly for no specific reason. It’s because they are all kids and will do stuff like that for EXACTLY this same reason…
Children do not have the vocabulary nor emotional intelligence yet to understand and express the emotions they are going through; and will either burst into tears or talk incessantly. I have witnessed boys pick their best mate over the best player and girls pick the strongest player over their best mate. Demer’s seems to not know, the best player may not be the best team mate. We coaches do!
Any decent coach will put the best leader as captain, irrelevant of whether they are the best player, and any decent coach will NOT encourage effective teams to think any player is better than any other. We win together and loose together. As Demer admits, she wasn’t the best player, and if she was only getting one minute per game, not that good either.

Demer asks; “Would you see that in a male team?” Well actually YES, the one of many examples that come to mind is the GB male bobsleigh team, they picked the sixth best athlete over 4th and 5th because psychologically he bonded the team better than 4 and 5. So even men can do Demer’s circle. Demer wants to ignore the female pecking order in her friendship circle. So even women can do Demer’s triangle.

Talking of going round in circles; ‘Perform in order to be accepted or accepted in order to perform’; is a circular argument, just like chicken and egg. Which comes first is far more often down to gender parental stereotyping, than any innate hardwired genetic sex differences. By the time we get to coach them, children have been brain washed via indoctrination, into gender stereotyping and the Mum is the main protagonist. Tonnes of research shows this. The tanker doesn’t need turning around, it needs abandoning.
As every genetic scientist will tell us, DNA is NOT destiny, time to dump the hard wired notion and use Carol Dweck’s notion of the flexible changeable neuroplastic mind.

Demer’s wants us to ignore the 80/20 rule, stereotyping boys and girls by putting competitive girls into the ‘friends zone’ circle and socially intelligent boys into the alpha male triangle role. 20% is more than an exception. Boys are catching up fast with looking pretty post match and adverts are now sexualising male football stars.
Demer’s stereotyping is a stereotypical backward step. Demer is correct, social stereotyping is everywhere, including her own “subconscious gender prejudices” research. She is blissfully unaware of Garath Thomas, Kegan Hirst, Sam Stanley, Clyde Rathbone. Maybe her google searches don’t stretch to Gay Rugby stars?

Professor Demer forgets; ‘correlation is not necessarily causation.’ If you want to read a book by a professor that know what they are talking about with the human condition, I’d suggest, Prof Carol Dweck, Sir ken Robinson, Dan Kahneman or Dr Shefali.
Professor Demer forgets; anecdotal evidence is one of the weakest evidences there is. Yet offers us The Volleyball and her own Basketball anecdote. The supposed ‘near’ identical scenario. Really?
There is simple, complicated and complex. The K.I.S.S. model is wrong. Albert Einstein came up with the advice; “Make things Simpler but not simple.”
There is NOTHING more complex we know of, than the human Brain; more synapse connections than the observable stars in the universe. Our best academics have no idea at all what consciousness is. And within complex systems, by definition, there will be unknowable unknowns. This is why, really bright people get the principle that, ‘the more we understand, the more we realise how little we understand. Humans aren’t ultimately understandable, yet.

It’s not about men trying to understand women, that is clearly impossible, it’s empathy we need, it’s listening skills we need. We don’t need to divide boys and girls into their differences, we need them together, to balance each other. Humans will only marry two types of people, the opposite or the same. The opposite for balance or the same for conformational bias.

If you’re a professional coach, you are equally professional to your female students as to your male students. As the famous phrase goes, “be kind because nearly everyone is fighting their own personal battle.” No one can walk a mile in someone shoes, even if they could it will always be coloured by our own perceptions and past assumptions.
Everyone should be treated as a separate individual because that’s exactly what they are.
As Noel Coward once quipped, ‘be yourself, because everyone else is taken’ or the millennials mantra; ‘I want to be unique, just like everybody else’.

Male or female, they require the same mental toughness, hard work, honesty and integrity, each individuals journey is unique and complex to them regardless of the red-herring our children get sold about gender stereotyping.

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