Baseball is no different from any other sport in that it is a zero sum game. You know full well your team will lose, and sometimes that loss will be a wipeout, and sometimes the victory will be snatched away at the last second.
For young boys and girls the baseball diamond will be the center of the universe during a competition, and stress levels will rise with the stress response patterns that that implies. This is another important difference between coaching boys and girls – stress response. Some might say that boys are at a disadvantage. The “fight or flight” response mentioned earlier leads to greater production of adrenaline in boys, which may overwhelm them with emotion and cloud their judgement. For girls, curiously, there is a greater production of oxytocin which helps girls remain significantly calmer under the stress of competition. Boys will generally be more prone to lay blame for failure on teammates and be more critical of one another, which will detrimentally affect their collective performance. Girls are more likely to retain a sense of comradery even when outmatched, supporting each other. However, in the long term, there may arise hidden tension between the female teammates that will only grow if left unaddressed. The advice for female team coaches in this situation is, once the team leaves the diamond, is to sit the whole team down for a debrief and encourage to speak openly, both about their own performance and about other’s. This will help identify those tensions early and have them resolved by placing responsibility where it is due, and mediating any conflicts.
For boys, a team sport is not simply a team sport – they have to compete among themselves in the team as well. This is a peculiar tendency programmed into boys by evolution. By the same token, girls in general have less competitive edge inside the team, and are inclined to wanting to get along with other team members better. For a coach this can be a bit challenging, especially if their experience is only coaching boys. The competition inside the boy team can be leveraged by the coach to increase performance, where the best performing player is the standards setter, and everyone else receives the message that they can be just as good with some hard work. This means each of the boys will strive to play their role perfectly, even if the team overall is falling behind. This strategy can backfire massively when applied to girls, because fueling competition inside the team might lead to a breakdown of cooperation. It is important for the well-being of each female team member to feel supported by all others in order to have the morale necessary for high performance. This means that a philosophy of staying a unit at all times is a better strategy for girls. Team bonding sessions where team members can explore and match each other’s motivations in the sport will be a huge benefit to overall performance. With that in place, it will be easy to then teach strategy and technique.