The Learning Process
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Varying Training for
Male and Female Athletes

Should Training be Equal for Men and Women?
       There is a popular notion that similar training principles and content can be applied to both male and female athletes.  This is generally erroneous and places female athletes in such situations at a disadvantage.

       Coaches who train female athletes need to be aware of the distinct differences of responses of post-pubescent, adolescent, and adult females. There is a lack of research, using control groups, to support that training that is effective on male athletes can be applied to females.

      There is no disputing the knowledge that there are considerable differences between male and female athletes, both hormonally and structurally. There has been an assumption that the training of female athletes only requires modification in terms of the magnitude. This assumption has been questioned and reputed.

Sexual Bias in Training Expectations
        Historically, women and girls have not been provided equal opportunities in sport because of
(a) perceptions relative to physiological differences between the sexes,
(b) societal norms and attitudes,
(c) organizational rules and support.

        In the early 1900s, sports opportunities for women and girls were limited to activities such as archery, dancing, croquet, golf, swimming, and tennis as medical doctors and female physical educators thought that vigorous activity would endanger a women's reproductive capacities.

        The origin of women's sports was to provide healthy exercise for women.  Almost universally, women's sport programs were directed and coached by female physical educators. It was not consider appropriate for male instructors to have access to their locker room. Women's sports were rooted in philosophies of participation, cooperation and play. Young ladies were not be encouraged to be aggressive or assertive when playing sports.

        Title IX impacted sports opportunities for women and girls; however, it wasn't until the latter part of 1973, in response to legal pressures associated with Title IX compliance, that women who accepted athletic scholarships were allowed to compete in national championships.  The Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), was founded to " schools extend their sports programs for women national program. By 1981 it had grown to 39 championships in 17 different sports with 6,000 women's teams and 960 member institutions.

Should Training Be Varied to Maintain Enthusiasm?

      Training variation involves changing activities by changing the range of intensity or class of skills. Variability in the emphasis of practice topics promotes learning and athlete's experience, reduces occurrences of staleness, and reduces the duration and/or intensity of plateaus.

Figure Skating consists of a higher percentage of female than male athletes
     Once athletes learn the fundamental movements of a skill, varying where they perform the element in practice sessions helps them learn to adapt to a competitive program choreographed to meet the well balanced program requirements by being able to make adjustments in the execution and location of required/optional items.  Coaches should discourage favorite (lucky) spots to perform jumps, spins, etc..

      Benefits of variations of tasks in practice sessions in training plan for competition:
  • Practice conditions should match competitive conditions. If the primary ice surface is smaller than  the host club's ice. Cone off the larger rink's ice surface to outline the smaller rink's surface.
  • Attempt to determine if the competition rink's ice will be colder, the same temperature, or warmer than the home rink.
  • Schedule running through program daily at your home rink. Limit skaters to simulate competition warm-ups followed by skaters drawing for their skating order.  Ideally, a coach should arrange to bring in judges and technical specialists to make the simulation as realistic as possible.
  • Schedule the off-ice exercises in phases with periodized cycles effectively builds variety into the annual weight training plan. The objective of training is to peak for each competition.
        Typically ice skaters must develop the ability to perform a variety of actions requiring the full use of all of the edges performed in both forward and backward directions. In is quite common for figure skaters to become so comfortable performing specific jumps and spins in the same location on the ice, that they are unable to perform the same elements at a different location after a series of transitional elements.

Recommended Reading:

Developing A Training Plan

Principles of Athletic Training

Mental Training for Athletes

The Female Athlete Volume 2(5): February, 1997

Weight training for women Female Athletes - Training for Success is a brand new workbook from Peak ... who participated in a total of 11 different sports, including soccer, athletics, lacrosse ... considered weight training equally important for male and female athletes,

Variation Training  Variation is a great way to help maximize your on and off-ice training. Variation and Training The old saying that variety is the spice of life applies as much to training.

Individual variation in response to altitude training   Histogram displaying variation in change.

The Variation Principle in Sports Training   The variation principle suggests that minor changes in training regiments yield more consistent gains in sport performance.

The Physician and Sports medicine: Strength Training for Women   American women first began strength training for sports in the 1950s.

Gender Issues Related to Males Coaching Female Athletes   The greater muscle mass that males possess allows for greater strength.  The female sports perspective.  Women's Lives: Themes and Variations in Gender Learning.

Physical and Mental Training Considerations

PDF Gender Issues Related to Males Coaching Female Athletes Gender Issues Related to Males Coaching Female Athletes. David C. ... In addition, a women's body temperature fluctuates over the course of the menstrual cycle.

PDF  Male and Female Athletes' and Nonathletes' Expectations was administered to 111 athletes (64 male and 47 female) and 166 nonathletes .... backgrounds in training and have different types of experience (e.g., sport).

PDF Female intercollegiate athletic trainers' experiences   Gender stereotypes and female intercollegiate certified athletic trainers (FI-ATCs). The purpose of this ..... biases. The bracketing interview was followed by four pilot interviews which provided .... role expectations suffer role conflict.

The Learning Environment:

Resistance Band Strength Training for Female Athletes  Does Strength training for female athletes require a different approach than with males? Do female athletes need different training equipment?

Swimming Science   Swimming is a unique sport in which female performances can approach and even exceed the men with regularity. Even compared to running (another sport with high female participation), gender performances in swimming are more closely aligned, particularly as event duration increases.


The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
      Mental Training for Athletes:

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.

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