Decades of competition have indisputably proven that women can compete in baseball on par with men. But equality does not mean homogeneity, and women carry many important psychological differences into baseball and sport in general. If the goal is to train the next generation of professional female baseball athletes, then all psychological factors must be taken into consideration when coaching girls and young women. There is research-based information that can be actionable on the diamond, which coaches should take on board. This is not to say that there is a universal method for all women – the research findings are a generalisation which allows for general guidelines in women’s baseball coaching. This should not be done at the expense of accounting for individual differences of each team member.
If you are a coach coming from a boy’s team to a girl’s team, you might find it difficult to get girls motivated in the same way. Male psychology is more comfortable in taking a step-by-step approach to a task and finding out where it leads, discovering the purpose of the task later. Female psychology is not as linear, and motivating girls will demand that you give them a greater explanation of what is happening or is about to happen. This might seem like stubborn resistance on the girls part, where things need to be explained when they should be practiced already instead. But this isn’t an attempt on the girls’ part to make things difficult for the coach. This is just a generally innate desire to understand the big picture first. The coach must show patience in those initial training sessions. Boys just want to know the rules so they can compete and compare. Girls are generally not so eager to sort out their hierarchy and will have a lot of “whys” about the rules as well. Once everything is clear, however, you will find that the zest for baseball among girls will match that of their male counterparts.
If your trainees are particularly young, they are unlikely to have a high degree of emotional intelligence, regardless whether it is boys or girls. Any competition is an emotional affair due to a great degree of stimuli, and the coach is a crucial stimuli. Communicating with the team is always a delicate balance between empathy and firmness so that players have a sense of high support and strict discipline. Men and women process stimuli differently, using different cognitive systems, and this is especially true at a young age. Boys are better attuned to their “fight or flight” instincts and respond accordingly, while girls process stimuli through their limbic system which has a direct relationship to emotions. That is why, for example, when you shout instructions during a game at a boy, they will more likely jump into action. A girl, though, might be overwhelmed by the perceived harshness under pressure and burst into tears. With girls, especially initially, the coach will have to make special emphasis on communication, making sure they are understood correctly. Girls will eventually switch to the reptilian brain that boys are naturally inclined to use in such situations, but it will take some practice.