Help Girls In Sports Overcome Bullying

Help Athletes Get Through Slumps

Female Bullying in Youth Sports

Girls and women in sports like to focus on relationships, while boys and men are less likely to do this, says Joan Steidinger, author of “Sisterhood in Sports: How Female Athletes Collaborate and Compete.”

But while focusing on relationships has many pluses—kids who do this are likely to be good team players, for example—girls are often criticized by coaches for this trait, she says.

Of course, criticism from coaches hurts kids’ confidence—and their performance.

As parents, it’s important to understand kids’ motivations for playing sports, to acknowledge these motivations and support them.

Many kids play sports to be with friends—and to be social—and there’s nothing wrong with that.

If your female athlete says she wants to play sports so she can be with her friends, don’t try to convince her that she should play to win a scholarship to college.

Don’t try to tell her that it’s all about competing and winning. Be sure to acknowledge all that’s good about focusing on relationships in sports: These kids are often easier to coach and like to collaborate, for example.

A downside of girls’ focusing on relationships is bullying.

Girls often use “relational aggression” in sports, which is a form of bullying in which female bullies exclude their targets from friendships and social events.

They also gossip about other girls to hurt them. In other words, female bullies use girls’ focus on relationships to hurt their targets.

If your social female player is the target of bullies, it’s really important to help her talk to the coach. Coaches should create a culture that prohibits bullying—on male and female teams.

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