Nike has developed a new digital coaching resource, “Coaching HER,” in partnership with the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport at the University of Minnesota, a preeminent research center leading a global effort to create lasting change for girls and women in sport.
We know that when young girls stay involved with play and sport, the benefits are immeasurable. Nike is committed to teaching the next generation of coaches how to encourage young girls to stay in sports, keep playing and have fun, particularly knowing that young girls tend to drop out of sports at twice the rate of boys by the age of 14.
Coaching HER is comprised of seven online modules that address the importance of sport for girls and the actions coaches can take to set girls up for success in sport. The tool tackles a central issue in youth sports that negatively impacts girls’ experiences: when coaches show unconscious biases and stereotypes toward gender. In the module “Tackling Gender Stereotypes,” for example, coaches learn to recognize the effect of stereotypes on girls’ participation and enjoyment. Along the way, coaches learn practical tips for how to use inclusive and gender-neutral language.
When a girl’s confidence is shaken because she internalizes gender biases and stereotypes, she is more likely to drop out of sports, based on a 2018 report published by the Tucker Center. The highest drop-off rate occurs during a critical age range when girls go through puberty, around 11 to 17 years old — which is exactly the age window when girls feel pressured to conform to an identity shaped by their peers and by adults, including coaches. How a girl feels about her coach is one of the most important factors in determining whether or not she keeps playing organized sports, according to the same 2018 report.
In March 2021, the Tucker Center, alongside its global colleagues, conducted 21 workshops with girls and coaches across six different countries: France, Japan, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. The girls and coaches were approached separately during the information-gathering stage to ensure that the feedback was honest and reflective of their lived experiences. Coaches were asked how they think about, perceive, evaluate and coach girls. Conversely, girls from diverse backgrounds were asked about their perceptions and experiences with their coaches.
Coaching HER’s entire programming was co-created from the direct insights of these participants. Both the survey results and interviews were analyzed by a team of researchers from the Tucker Center, and modules were designed to challenge the assumptions of what it means to coach girls — seen through the eyes of girls themselves.
Through Coaching HER’s seven modules, coaches can improve their understanding of gender bias and stereotypes and adjust their coaching to help girls stay engaged in sport.
Coaching HER is Nike’s most current, comprehensive and evidence-based resource on coaching girls. The tool expands upon Nike’s existing collection of Made to Play resources to help keep girls active as part of the company’s aim to achieve 50 percent girl participation in the sport-based community programs it supports by 2025.