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Have you noticed how often girls ask questions during your sessions? How much do you prepare for this and give time to those individuals?

The biggest difference I have recognised throughout coaching males & females, is the amount that girls want to learn and the desire to know WHY to almost everything. 

I have coached both boys and girls from grassroots to elite & I have continued to notice one big difference in the participation of both genders. The majority of male players just simply do as they are instructed without question whilst on the other hand female players want to know what, why & how

I recognise players asking questions to be a real positive contribution. It show’s how much they want to learn & develop. Alongside this it highlights the type of environment you have created as a coach; you want the players to feel safe and comfortable in their environment enabling them to ask questions. 

To enable me to create this kind of environment I find it is important to incorporate the following factors;

  • Get to know everyone, make sure they feel part of the team and valued. 
  • Be honest & open, females will figure out if you are not being genuine, especially older players.
  • Focus on the process not the outcome & involve players in this. 
  • Use a mixture of coaching styles in your delivery, i.e. Q&A, trial & error, guided discovery. 


However, the power of QUESTIONS & ‘WHY’ does come with a warning…. 

I work with a group of girls and recently I have found myself delivering sessions that are very “command” style. I recognised I was answering numerous questions posed by the players and telling them what to do next. By delivering this way they are not getting the opportunity to figure out things for themselves ultimately creating a set back in their decision making

Over the last few weeks I have been working at varying my coaching style – posing questions to the players, i.e., ‘what would you do in this situation?’ ‘What would you do if the other team did this?’ I’ve also been working on my practice design to set problems within sessions & preparing time within sessions for Q&A and guided discovery to take place (also staying silent during parts of the session!).
I’ve started to see a difference! 

Take Away/Top Tips

  • Environment – It is vital you create a positive and safe learning environment to ensure the players feel comfortable to ask questions.
  • Embrace it – do not see questions as being ‘challenged’ instead a great learning opportunity (for you and the player!)
  • Be prepared – Understand what you are asking of the players & what you want from your session.
  • Do not give them all the answers - Let players discover things for themselves, we need to make sure we are producing good decisions makers as coaches.
  • Do not be a fraud – it is ok if you do not know the answer to the question, instead of making something up just tell them you’re not 100% sure & will let them know at the next session. 
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Written By

Abbie Sadler

Women’s High Performance Football Centre Coach Development Officer at the FA and BCWFC WSLA Academy Coach at Bristol City.

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