Steps to Increase Female Participation in Sports:
by Diana S. Cutaia
1. Introduce young girls to different sports and varied opportunities for physical activity. Customarily not as involved in sports, young females do not necessarily respond to traditional games and coaching, and can be discouraged by programs that just focus on boys’ development.
2. Hold girls to the same standards as boys. One way to break the societal difference in expectations between boys and girls is to expect both of them to do the same number of pushups. It’s valuable to keep boys and girls together, up to a point, so that they learn to accept each other. When both genders are grouped together and held to the same high standards, each accepts the other and respects their capabilities.
3. Introduce new games, rule modifications, and creative play ideas to keep girls interested in sports. Not placing too much emphasis on winning or game outcomes and instead have sports be about learning physical activity, and the game, in a safe environment. In practice, this could include teaching all youth how to find their heart rates or use pedometers to measure their own physical achievements. You could also have girls set their own standards and write a joint mission statement for their team goals and behaviors.
4. Make athletic activity an integral part of girl’s lives by building a community beyond the field. When young athletes involve athletic activity in their communities, it will help making them feel engaged beyond the field. One way to achieve this is by involving parents in your program. This allows girls to show her parents what she is capable of. Also, it increases the parents’ understanding of their daughter’s social environment, which is especially helpful for girls growing up in traditional, patriarchal families. Having older girls as coaches and mentors for their younger teammates is another way to make athletic activity part of girl’s lives beyond the field.