This off-season, I came across a study that caught my eye. The article was entitled “Why More Mothers Should Coach Youth Sports.” At NYO Softball, we have a good number of women coaching each year, but we can do a better job encouraging more involvement than we have. Here are a few key sections from the article:
–The lack of gender balance in the youth coaching ranks is problematic in many ways. For one, it sends the wrong message to children and youth about power, gender, and leadership and reinforces the notion that sport is male-dominated, male-run, and male-centered. For children, who are impressionable, seeing mostly men in positions of power in a context that matters a great deal to them, does little to challenge and change the status quo. A lack of women coaches also means girls have few, if any, active female role models, therefore making it less likely that girls will view coaching as a viable and available career pathway.
–Women (many of whom have played sports) with children who played (or still currently play) sports are a readily available and knowledgeable, yet largely untapped, group of potential coaches. Mother-athletes have a vast amount of sport and child-centered knowledge that can be transferable, yet many mothers fail to think about their skill set as applicable to coaching or fail to perceive themselves as fit to coach. It is well known that much of the existing research suggests women do not become involved in coaching due in part to a perceived lack of knowledge, skills, and confidence. Such skills, which are arguably required of every mother, such as planning, management, communication, organization, teaching, scheduling, and interpersonal and relational expertise are all aspects of parenting that easily transfer to coaching.
–Many mothers felt strongly about being a positive role model for their, and other, children. “For the kids, coaching really creates awareness that women can be in positions of authority and be successful. It’s probably a nice thing to see a mother in a leadership position,” one mother said. Another added: “I think it’s important to them because they see me as more than just their mother. For me personally [since I quit my career to stay at home], it is important to me that my children understand that I am well-educated, I am intelligent, I am hard-working.”
As a father raising daughters, I’ve learned how much these things matter. NYO Softball would like to welcome and encourage the Moms out there to help coach this season. Many of you have past softball-playing experience and/or experience from playing other sports. Even if not, NYO Softball holds Coaching Clinics each pre-season to provide you with practice plans, drills to run, and the fundamentals to teach to your players. We are also putting in place a Coach Mentor Program this spring where all younger/newer coaches will be connected with an experienced coach as a resource throughout the season.
If you would consider helping your daughter’s team out this spring, just email Rookie League Director Brad Alford at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kit Kat League Director Jen Geckler at email@example.com. I speak for many of my male colleagues when I say that coaching girls’ softball at NYO has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life—there is no reason the men should get to have all the fun doing this!
Brian Raley–NYO Fastpitch Softball