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Co-ed vs Single Gender Sports Teams
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2/2/2015 at 3:43:55 PM GMT
Posts: 6
Co-ed vs Single Gender Sports Teams

Hello, Up2Us Members and Coaches! Below is the inaugural post of a monthly series of moderated forum discussion on a wide range of topics. Our resident staff moderator will be active here throughout the month - and we hope you will be too! Please join the discussion and come back often!

There will be a new post on a new topic by a new staff member, coach or member organization every month - so come back often! We look forward to discussing sports-based youth development (SBYD) with you.

Hi Everyone! I’m Susan Golbe, known to Up2Us staff as “Super.” I’ve been with Up2Us since August of 2011 doing everything under the sun that happens with regards to SBYD research, evaluation and best practices.  But now, I primarily focus on Monitoring and Evaluation for Coach Across America and research.  I also work on Best Practice Guides (Check out these guides: Volunteers and Parents) to offer member programs useful tools for program improvement.  

February 4 is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Not by accident, the next Guide we have coming out is about serving girls successfully in SBYD programs.  Girls, and especially girls of color living in low-income urban areas, are a unique population for sports programs to recruit and retain. Recruiting and retaining girls and girls of color at your program takes resources and knowledge. However, it’s unbelievably important to take the time to do these things to be sure girls are afforded every opportunity to play the sports they deserve and need for their success.  

One particularly important topic is girls only teams vs. co-ed teams - and I’m interested in hearing what you think!

There are strong arguments for both sides of the topic.  On one hand, girls only teams can offer the opportunity to try something new without the social stress of trying something “in front” of the boys. Additionally, girls’ only teams can offer girls the valuable bonding time they need with other young women.

On the other hand, co-ed sports can be a healthy way for boys and girls to interact in a realm where they aren’t usually integrated and also a powerful arena for boys to learn respect and appreciation for strong girls.

Both options require special attention and careful planning.  We want to hear from you what experiences you’ve had with girls’ only teams or co-ed teams. Let’s chat - respond below!

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What ages do you think are best for co-ed teams?

  • What has been a successful method for trying out co-ed teams with slightly older youth?

  • What has been a challenge with having girls only teams?

  • If you have separate teams by gender, but want to ensure the youth do spend time with the other gender, what kinds of activities have you found to be most successful?

  • Have you conducted any program evaluation on the advantages and disadvantages of girls only or co-ed teams? What were the results?

Last edited Monday, February 2, 2015
2/12/2015 at 6:20:37 PM GMT
Posts: 6

I'd like to put in support for the co-ed sports are beneficial side of the argument. The article below explains well a feeling I've had had for the many years during which I have participated in adult recreation sports.

Some men just don't respect women athletically. It can be very challenging to have an enjoyable athletic experience as an adult - especially for women when there aren't always single gender options to participate. The article explains the reasons better than I could. If girls and boys played together more frequently growing up - maybe this wouldn't be an issue. What does everyone else think?

Last edited Friday, February 20, 2015
2/19/2015 at 7:44:40 PM GMT
Posts: 2
I agree with Susan about how the lack of respect for women in athletics is frustrating; it's a complex issue that could be tackled in a number of ways. However, I tend to support single-sex teams in youth sports because of my personal experiences with coed sports when I was growing up. I always felt more confident on all-girls teams versus coed programs. In junior high, I signed up for coed downhill skiing but quit after the first week of practice because I didn't feel confident or comfortable trying skiing at the competitive level in the presence of boys. I hated the practices because I had to run and do conditioning drills in front of boys. I was embarrassed about my athletic ability not being at the same level as the boys; but more so, I was self-conscious that I might be bad in comparison to the other girls, and that the boys would witness it. This completely deterred me from wanting to stick it out. This was a stark contrast from my single-sex team experiences with field hockey and lacrosse, where I felt much more confident and comfortable trying a new sport and learning new physical activity skills. If I had any insecurities about being slow or looking awkward, I was able to get over that in an environment without boys, and ultimately I stuck with and developed a love for those sports and physical activity that has lasted.

Here is a link to the scholarly article "Developing Physically Active Girls" from the Tucker Center, a leader in research on girls and women in sport. The whole article is interesting, but if you scroll down to the section "Peer and Social Climate" on page 12 of the text (page 32 of the PDF), it expounds upon the idea that peer interaction is important when learning physical activity skills, and how boys and girls differ in their peer interactions in a physical activity settings.

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