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THINK TWICE BEFORE PLACING GIRLS ON CO-ED TEAMS

THINK TWICE BEFORE PLACING GIRLS ON CO-ED TEAMS

YOU MAKE THE CALL…
Should girls play sports with boys? Read this first and then give me your thoughts….

Dear Coach Kuyper,
I would like to get your counsel on the subject of girls playing with boys on team sports. We have a seven-year-old daughter and are finding out that it is difficult to find all girl teams for her to play on. It doesn’t really matter which sport we are putting her in, the teams are coed. It just seems like we don’t have a choice because we really can’t find a league that is dedicated to girls only.
I remember myself as a little girl that I played with the boys regardless of the sport, including flag football. I always had one of my brothers on the team with me so I felt somewhat protected by them.
That is not the case with my daughter, as she will not have any brothers on her teams. Is it ok for girls to play with the boys? Can it work?
Thank you,
Macie in Mesa Arizona

Thank you for that question, although it’s not an easy one to answer.
There are a few angles to look at when talking about girls playing with the boys on sports teams. Let me also start out by saying that I am speaking generally; all situations are not the same, and not all boys and girls fit the scenarios that I am about to describe.
I think the first issue to look at and also the easiest is the age of the kids. It works better coed sports when the kids are younger. It becomes more complicated regardless of the sport, when the kids get to the middle school grades for a variety of reasons.
The second issue to look at is the kind of sport that the boys and girls would be playing.
Let’s break this down and look at some of the “pros and cons” for coed sports:
I have been coaching and training boys and girls in club basketball for over 25 years, and have coached my 4 kids as they were growing up in almost every team sport available, so, I have faced the matter of coed sports many, many times.
I have seen in most cases that the girls don’t excel or reach their potential when playing against boys their same age. The older the kids are, the wider the gap becomes in strength, size, speed, explosiveness…etc. what I see happen too often is that a girl in this situation tends to play timid and doesn’t play with as much enthusiasm, energy and confidence.
I have also observed even the boys starting to play different. In some situations, especially in the older age groups, the boys change their demeanor, as acting “cool” to impress the girls now is their style of play. Now, the games and practices become silly and less focused on the sport itself.
The older the kids get, the faster and more physical the games can become for the boys and often when the girls playing with, the boys try to slow down the pass, or modify the game to adjust to the girls level of speed and strength.
I think that the sport makes a difference as well. I know that there have been (I personally know one) girls that have wrestled on the boys high school team. I am not a fan of this kind of coed action. Too much body contact at this hormonal age can’t be a great idea. Sports like football where there can be a higher level of contact and touching, is in that same category for me.
If girls are going to play with the boys, I have seen it work out better, for the most part, when the girls play down an age or two. This can make up for the speed and strength differences, and can place the kids on an equal playing field.
The more physical and explosive the sport, think the more challenging coed becomes.
And there are those times when I have watched girls play even with the boys. It is fun to watch. It doesn’t happen very often, but I have seen it.
My suggestion is to find a bunch of her girl friends and put a girl’s team together, so at least practice times are with the girls only. Then ask the league officials for permission to play down an age group or two. Remember to think of safety as the priority, then go out and “beat da boys.”
Ok, now it’s time for you “YOU MAKE THE CALL”. What do you think, should girls and boys play on the same team?
Give me your thoughts. Email me at: tomkuyper@kidsandsports.com

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