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Our Crazy Theory about How to Grow Women’s Sport

The very process of measurement – of taking benchmarks, setting goals and tracking accomplishments – creates significant benefits. Tracking can not only reveal and amplify, but sometimes even cause, results. Why does it work this way? Measurement and tracking cause us to pay more attention. They allow us to draw lines in the sand; to assess objectively; to create specific goals; and to stare clear-cut results (or lack thereof) in the face. These processes cause thought, planning, and reflection. Applying measurement can prove a huge catalyst for forward motion and outcomes. It can also cause something else: confidence.

Something Seemingly Unrelated: Female Participation in Sport

The disproportionate lack of female sport participation as compared to males across just about every sport, community and setting has vexed huge numbers of smart and passionate people. Though the sporting landscape is more aware than ever before of this disparity and has begun trying to change it, females in sport are still drastically underrepresented and misunderstood.

One major cause of females avoiding sport that surfaces again and again in the research is a lack of confidence. This can include a lack of general self-esteem as well as a lack of confidence in sporting ability. Females across age brackets, geographic locations, sport types, and almost any other demographic have cited a lack of confidence as a hurdle to joining or enjoying sport.

A Question of Confidence

Applying effective measurement and tracking to effort reveals outcomes more clearly, creating and bolstering confidence. And female participation in sport could be increased by increasing their confidence. Could measurement really make a difference tackling such a widespread and overarching issue as increasing female sport participation? We suggest it can. Check our logic – but we think we’re on to something here.

How Tracking Achievement Could Change the Game

If the premise above is true, how could we apply measurement to our sport programmes to create confidence and thus foster more widespread/sustained female participation? Here are three principles that can help you and your club or organisation apply the power of measurement to your programming to create confidence for your members and participants:

  1. Change the meaning of success: Sport is built around pretty straightforward indicators of success. Did you score? Did you win? However, using those metrics drastically narrow the potential growth and enjoyment that can come from sport participation. Looking beyond those frameworks of “success” opens a wealth of possibilities that can be much more effective for increasing confidence. Did you improve? Did you smile? Did you feel strong? Did you solve a problem or task in less time than it took you yesterday? Use goals that don’t emphasise winning and rather focus on developing traits like resilience, teamwork or ingenuity.
  2. Keep goals achievable and grow little by little: Break skills down. Make bite-sized goals. Set up your training sessions and programmes in such a way that everyone can walk away with some type of win and build on those wins over time.
  3. Help your participants share their results: Medals? Certificates? A parents’ night? A recap at the end of training to call out the best in your players and acknowledge their work? Your creativity is the limit. Give your participants a space to recognise their work as well as acknowledge it in their team mates.
  4. Pay attention to culture: The effectiveness of strategies to build confidence will only work when your leadership, deliverers, coaches and parents are onboard with, and involved in, the process. Coaches who employ a win-at-all-costs mentality could damage your efforts to create a culture of confidence-building. Make sure you communicate with your deliverers and involve them in fostering an environment of confidence and improvement.

The best part: these tips won’t work just for females. When applied, they can help significantly boost the experience of all your members. However, using these practices will help your club or organisation serve your female populations and attract more female participants who, with just a little boost of confidence, could enjoy a profoundly enhanced and extended sport experience.

Why We Care

WE’RE NOT HERE TO HOODWINK: This piece is written by a female basketball coach and the founder of a company that offers products helping sport groups track and reveal accomplishment. So take what’s said here with a grain of salt because it is our team’s livelihood. However, the reason we’re in this field is because we fervently believe that helping sport participants better see their outcomes leads to more enjoyable and more sustained participation. You don’t need our services to make this happen. Give it a try on your own. We’ll bet you’ll see results you’ve never seen before. And when you do, we’d love to hear how it goes.

Keep growing,

-LS and the Fathom team


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