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How Can We Retain Girls In Sport?

Retaining girls in our sport should be our number 1 priroty as coaches.

Currently girls drop out of sports at 1.5 - 2 times the rate boys by the age of 13/14yrs and this number increases even more by the time they are 17.

There are many reasons that girls leave sport and I would love to hear your thoughts on why you think they do in the comment box below?

Today Im going to talk about one of the reasons Girls leave the sport and how we as Coaches can change this?

Lack of FUN

One of the major reasons girls drop out of sport is it stops becoming fun. As soon as this happens they quickly move on to something else.

If you were to ask one of your female athletes

'What keeps you coming back to Boxing?'

Im sure one of the reasons would be based around the fact they have fun.

We must not forget that the reason these girls started the sport was because it was fun and this applies to ALL levels of Althea.

As coaches we are completely in control of how we plan and deliver our sessions and also how much pressure we are putting on our athletes to win, even if its not directly.

Girls are very observant and constant praise of a boxer that keeps winning can make them feel that losing is a failure

And Failure is never fun.

We must look to praise the effort that went in to the win, for example how much their fitness had increased or the huge improvement in their footwork and balance rather than praising just the result.

This will make our boxers see that, as coaches, the result isn't important to us, it's the effort and the improvements we see that matter.

Careful planning of sessions is so important to make sure we are delivering a variety of different drills and ensuring the session doesn't become repetitive and boring.

You can still have the same end outcome but if you can think of 3 or 4 different ways to reach it and even add in a game, you'll keep the enthusiasm of your boxers which means you'll keep their attention.

I call it the three E's

Enthusiasm - Engagement - Evolution

And it's always fun seeing yourself improving.

Whether Im coaching Juniors or Seniors one thing I make sure I incorporate is team work and the fact you win as a team or lose as a team. This may seem strange as people think Boxing is an individual sport but once you become part of a Club, you become part of a team.

So when setting competitions, make sure there is no way of an individual losing the competition for their team.

For example

Having 2 teams of 10 and saying - ' Everyone must do 20 press-ups and then stand up, the team with everyone stood first is the winner'

This will always lead to 1 or 2 individuals feeling like they've let the team down which is certainly not fun and its very unlikely these females will keep coming back to the sessions.

So a better way to the run the competition would be

' The first team to get to 100 press ups collectively is the winner'

This way everyone contributes to the end result, theres a lot less stress on the individual and no boxer feels like they've lost it for their team.

It's always a great idea to finish the session with something fun. If you get the girls leaving with big smiles on their faces, it's highly likely you will be seeing them again at the next session.

There is a whole list of things you can do to make sessions more fun, here are a few more ideas

  • Add Music

  • Let the girls design a session

  • Add new bits of equipment

  • Combine other sports

  • Boxing related games

  • Rewards for Boxer Of The Session / Week / Month (rewarding effort rather than talent)

  • Celebrate Birthday's

  • Have a parent and boxer session

A great way to find out if the boxers had fun is to ask for feedback.

Spend a few minutes at the end of the session asking what the girls liked are why, what they had learned from the session and what they didn't enjoy and why?

This feedback will be invaluable when it comes to planning future sessions.

So to end, if we want to retain girls we must make sure we focus our sessions on being fun, as this is the main reason girls start and stay in sport.

With so many other distractions and past times we must make sure our girls WANT to come to training and WANT to be in the gym. If we can achieve this, we will retain our female boxers and start to chip away at the above statistic.

Hope this has been of some use.

Speak soon.


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