Women in sports coaching

Official statistics and empirical research show that only 20-30% of all sports coaches are women. The low proportion of female coaches does not reflect the increasing number of sporting girls and women and is particularly significant in senior coaching positions, where women often represent only a couple percent.

18 Jun 2021 Vladimír Jůva

Sports coaches have a major impact on the development and quality of sport at all levels. Their work has an extraordinary societal impact - they have a major part in any success in popular domestic and international sports competitions. At the same time, they make a positive contribution to the physical, mental and social health of millions of children, youth, adults and elderly. Therefore, the need for quality coaches is justifiably growing. However, even the largest sports superpowers often lack coaches, which is enhanced by the fact that women are a minority in the coaching profession. This is a global, European and Czech problem. Despite the increased attention of experts and sports institutions, which have been dealing with gender issues in recent years, it turns out that the shortage of coaches not only persists but in some aspects is even deepening.

How did gender inequality in coaching arise? In what contexts did the first female coaches appear? When did the organizational support for female coaches begin to develop? Which countries have projects focused on gender issues of coaching? How can we help female athletes towards coaching after the end of their sports careers? Does coaching education reflect the absence of female coaches? Does coaching education respond to the needs of mothers? We have been looking for answers to these questions not only at the Faculty of Sports Studies at MU since 2018 within the research project Gender Aspects of Coaching (MU specific research GENAT in 2018 and GENAT2 in 2019).

The results of quantitative and qualitative research surveys point out a number of circumstances that could improve the gender imbalance in coaching:

  • necessary changes in the social perception of women in coaching, eg. popularization of successful female coaches
  • babysitting services for coaches at sports venues
  • improving the low financial value of coaching activities
  • providing more training opportunities for women so they can demonstrate their coaching skills
  • increasing opportunities to engage in full-time coaching
  • greater support from sports clubs and associations
  • strengthening the possibilities of distance coaching education
  • extension of effective and gender-sensitive forms of mentoring.

Daily news reminds us that our female athletes are extremely successful in many sports. Their experience could be used very effectively in elite and recreational sports development if they continued to work as coaches after the end of their sports career. The Faculty of Sports Studies at MU offers coaching study programs that may help all aspiring coaches. The excellent results of Czech sportswomen can be connected with another profession via the Dual Career program. Foreign examples of good practice can also help to improve the gender imbalance in coaching. Abroad we can get inspiration on how to strengthen the interventions at the national, federal and club level, involve experienced female coaches in mentoring programs or innovate coaching education to support women in coaching.

Selected sources:

Canadian Journal for Women in Coaching. (2000–2021). Ottawa: Coaching Association of Canada. Dostupné z https://coach.ca/canadian-journal-women-coaching 

Fasting, K. (2019). Zapojme se všichni! Směrem k genderové vyváženosti v evropském sportu. Analytická zpráva. Štrasburk: Rada Evropy. Dostupné z https://www.olympic.cz/upload/files/r1subv6sel-analyticky-report-4.pdf 

Fasting, K., & Knorre, N. (2005). Woman in Sport in the Czech Republic. The Experiences of Female Athletes. Oslo & Praha: Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and Czech Olympic Committee. 

Gender Equality in Coaching: Interactive Tool Kit. (2016). European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation: Bruxelles. Dostupné z https://www.score-coaching.eu/score-interactive-toolkit  

Jakubcová, K., Jůva, V, & Roček, M. (2020). On selected problems of low representation of women in coaching. In J. Cacek, Z. Sajdlová, & K. Šimková, 12th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON KINANTHROPOLOGY “Sport and Quality of Life” (s. 394–400). Brno: Masarykova univerzita.  

Jakubcová, K., Jůva, V, & Roček, M. (2020). Trenérství a ženy – organizační a projektová podpora. Česká kinantropologie, 24(34), 20–37. 

LaVoi, N. M. (Ed.). (2016). Women in Sports Coaching. New York, NY: Routlege. 

Women in Sport Coaching. Special Issue. (2019). Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 27(2).  


More articles

All articles

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info