5 Keys to Training Today’s Female Athlete

Generally speaking, there aren’t and shouldn’t be many differences in training male and female athletes.

Every athlete needs to be strong, powerful, fast, and athletic. They need to be mobile, stable, and certainly conditioned. Most importantly, they need to be healthy so they can produce results on the field or court when it matters most!

But after 8 years and coaching thousands of female athletes, I’ve picked up a few tips that can help you create a culture that allows female athletes to thrive.

1. Build A “Buy In” Culture 

In order to get the most out of your female athletes, you must connect with them and engage them in the process in order to achieve great results.

The coach needs to create buy in from both coaches and athletes from day one. There is a saying “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” This applies when training female athletes.

Yelling and hollering doesn’t usually work well with groups female of athletes. But once they understand you’re there to help them succeed, you will get their full attention and commitment.

Getting athletes to engage from the time they walk in the weight room or on the field and court is important to the overall success of the program. This starts from the moment they walk in the door by asking them about their day, their upcoming practice, their exams, etc.

It’s easy to have these conversations while the athletes are gathering, warming up, and doing activities such as foam rolling, stretching, and mobility/movement prep as a team. This often leads to questions, which is the perfect time to educate the team in the areas of fitness, nutrition, and training.

2. Reduce Injuries with Purposeful Drills and Exercises 

The number one goal of any strength and performance program at the high school level should be to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries. Young female athletes have a high incidence of ACL injuries, with 85% being noncontact.

Some simple but effective exercises to be done daily include:

  • Mini hurdle hopping and landing skills (linear, lateral, rotational) both single and double leg
  • Mini band walks (forward, backward, lateral)
  • Squat patterns (single and double leg)
  • Ham/glute/hinge patterns (single and double leg)
  • Deceleration drills such as lunges and change of direction

Athletes involved in overhead sports such as volleyball, softball, tennis, and swimming should include additional exercises for the shoulder and core to reduce the repetitive stress that can lead to overuse injuries. These can include:

  • External and internal rotation exercises for the shoulder
  • Scapular retraction and stabilization exercises
  • Vertical standing core exercises (lifts, chops, anti-rotational presses)
  • Med ball throws (over, diagonal, and side tosses)

3. Create Team Training Times

Training as a team at scheduled times is especially beneficial for female athletes. This can often be an awkward and challenging age for young athletes, so being alongside teammates can make the experience more comfortable.

I have found that having girls train alongside each other creates a positive group dynamic and ideal training culture.

They will work harder and encourage each other more than if they were on their own.

4. Create well-rounded athletes 

We are living in an era of athlete specialization, which is not going away.

The coach can play a big role in helping develop athleticism by including a wide variety of training and movement skills into the program, and not focusing on only sport-specific skills.

Including a wide array of drills and exercises will enhance overall athleticism. Programs should include:

  • Strength
  • Power
  • Change of direction
  • Aerobic conditioning
  • Speed
  • Acceleration/deceleration

5. Develop Both Physical and Mental Strength 

Training is a perfect environment for building confident young women with positive self-esteem. These positive habits will carry over both on and off the athletic field.

Through goal setting and consistent hard work, athletes will see progress both on and off the field.

Helping your female athletes become successful on and off the field is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a high school coach.

When your female athletes are lifting and training as good as or better than the boys, you have created the optimal training facility.

Don’t be Responsible for Another Statistic

More than ever, female athletes are playing sports, striving to win, and earning college scholarships.

They’re sacrificing quality training time with sports performance coaches like us to play another season of AAU basketball, club soccer and showcase softball.

So, we’ve got to do OUR part and educate and empower coaches and parents alike to not only help athletes reach their potential, but also prevent them from LIMITING their potential due to injury. While we cannot prevent all injuries, experience and education have shown us we can certainly have a major hand in preventing many of them due to inadequate strength and body control.

If you’re looking for a complete system for training today’s female athlete, we hope you consider the work we’ve done, the programs we’ve developed and the athletes we have helped–3500 a year and counting. We’re hoping to set-up a time to talk about how we can help you and your female athletes on-site at your school this season!