Junior Mixed Clubs: Have additional open and women's practices and tournaments

Various studies show that young women under 17 prefer to participate in sports in a women-only environment. This changes as athletes get older and more confident in their athletic abilities and social skills. 

Encouraging junior women's players

It is one of the most challenging but rewarding tasks to help individuals and a team find themselves and encourage each other to grow and realise their full potential. 

It can be challenging in junior practices to focus equally on male and female matching athletes. Different personalities and varying confidence levels among athletes can lead to shyness. Limited resources and high demand for coaches during practice can lead to children feeling left out. Having additional practice time for single-gender sessions can help bring the best out of those who don't have the skillset to shine in mixed practice. Single-gender practices and tournaments can help create friendships and deepen relationships within the group. If you don't have a large group to work with within your junior program, having too many training sessions can overwhelm and overtire athletes. One additional practice per month or every two weeks might be enough in the beginning to start this initiative. This set-up can help you focus on specific drills and skill levels in the smaller groups, helping build confidence and abilities within your player base.

A diverse group of trainers is ideal for creating a set-up where you can focus on promoting subconscious equity on the pitch and in the group dynamic.

Maintaining relationships in the mixed group

Be aware that this extra time can also lead to segregation between the two single-gender groups, as athletes develop friendships within their division. This is not necessarily a bad thing once a high level of respect and support is maintained between both groups. Be sure to emphasise the wholeness of the team when having mixed training. Be sure to give lots of praise and encouragement, and try not to turn too much attention to athletes who may not react well to being in the spotlight. Team building exercises and team rituals (e.g. chants or celebrations) can also work to cement the relationship between different groups within the team. 

Referenced Case Studies

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