How to Build Strong and Confident Female Athletes

September 20, 2021

Are you a coach of female athletes who is passionate about helping them feel strong and confident? Are you a parent with a daughter who wants to ensure your child is getting adequate nutrition on and off the court? Do you work with female athletes in some way and want the information needed to help with body image, biology, and overall health? 

I’ve been an athlete, a coach, and a parent, and I want to help.

Maybe you’ve tried to talk about these things with the female athlete in your life, but you weren’t sure you had the right information. Or you want to know more about how a female’s body changes and what that means for their health and nutrition. Maybe you struggle with giving nutrition advice while still promoting positive body image.

Sometimes it’s nice to have a clear roadmap for tackling these topics.

I’ve been where you’ve been. Not only are healthy athletes stronger and more confident, they also win championships. 

Why are Female Athletes Different?

Female athletes are not male athletes with smaller frames. In the short history of women competing in athletics, we’ve gone from not studying female athletes differently, to thinking they’re too complicated to study, to where we are now. Girls’ bodies have different hormones, different needs, and are judged differently by society. All of these things are important when working with female athletes.

If you’re working with girls or women in any athletic space, you need to have a general understanding of basic nutrition, hydration, recovery, how their bodies are different from men, and signs and symptoms that they aren’t fueling properly. 

Here are some perks for promoting positive nutrition and body image:

  • Your athletes will be stronger. It’s about teaching them to eat when they should, and to eat what will fuel them the best. This will help them be at their strongest. 
  • Your athletes will be happier. Sports are great for self-esteem, but not if you’re making them feel bad. Teaching them positive nutrition and body image will help them be happier as well as stronger. 
  • Your athletes will be educated. Teaching them about health and nutrition now will lay down a foundation of knowledge they will take with them long after they’ve left their sport. That knowledge is priceless. 

All athletes deserve to feel strong, happy, and educated about body image and nutrition. But female athletes have a unique experience in terms of what their body needs, the hormone changes they experience, and the pressure put on them by society. 

How I Build Strong and Confident Female Athletes

I grew up in the glaring reflection of fluorescent lights on a gymnasium floor in Wyoming, the gym brat of a volleyball coach. I was a multisport athlete through high school and went on to play volleyball for two years at the collegiate level. 

But I’ll be honest, there was a time where I hated my body. I feel competition, strength, and the drive to be better deep in my bones. However, some bad coaches took my drive to compete and succeed and, instead, gave me a complex about my body and a focus on what it couldn’t do. 

We had to do weigh-ins, I was told I had to lose weight if I wanted to succeed, and food felt like something to feel shame about instead of something to nourish me. Through a lot of conversations as an adult with other athletes, coaches, and teachers, I learned that my experience was not unique. 

I’m now a mom of three girls, volleyball club director, PN1 nutrition coach, and collector of foster dogs. I’m currently in an amazingly unique position of starting a varsity volleyball program from the ground up, so most of my spare time is spent in the gym with teenage girls.

My mission is to make sure that my own girls, and any athletes I have the pleasure of working with, don’t feel how I felt when I was in their shoes. My mission is to teach our athletes about what their bodies can do, how to properly fuel them, and the importance of loving your body enough to treat it well. That doesn’t involve body shaming, food shaming, or focusing on the number on the scale. 

How to Build Your Own 

You don’t need a story like mine to build strong and confident female athletes. I’m in a unique position as an athlete, parent, and coach all in one. Truly, if you are here, you can build strength and confidence into the athletes in your life as well. 

Here’s what you need:

  • Education. The more you know, the more you can teach them. And to teach them without shaming them. My book, Fueling the Female Athlete, is all about giving you the education you need to help the athletes in your life feel strong and confident. 
  • A plan. It’s not enough to know the material, you also need a plan to implement it. My planner, The Winning Season, was created to help implement health and nutrition into your season. 
  • Accountability. Accountability is all about action and responsibility. My Pow(h)er Method is a workbook and guide created to bridge the gap between you and the female athletes in your life as they learn about health and nutrition for their body. 

Building strong female athletes has to do with learning about their bodies, the food that can fuel them, as well as sleep and hydration. But I think it has the most to do with creating an environment of strength that’s absent of any shame. 

The female athletes in your life have to believe in themselves and their bodies in order to play their best, be a part of a team, and to win. And they can’t do that without the people around them rooting for them to be happy and strong. 

It all comes down to YOU!

Three Common Misconceptions 

I can’t tell you how many times this information has been brushed aside as being unimportant or something already covered. But I can tell you as an athlete, parent, and coach, that we should never stop learning about this.

Female athletes deserve to understand what fuels their unique bodies, and it’s up to the people around them to show them.

Here are three common misconceptions I hear about fueling female athletes:

  1. Female athletes are not that different. All athletes have similarities, that’s true. But female athletes have different nutritional needs, different hormones, and different societal standards that may affect their mindset about their body and nutrition. 
  1. Female athletes don’t want or need to learn about this. Sure, some teenagers may say they don’t want or need to learn about their body. It’s an uncomfortable topic. But this is so important for them to learn, regardless of what they say. 
  1. The parents/coaches of female athletes don’t need to know this. I’ve heard some misconceptions that these topics are for the athlete to learn, not the parents or coaches. But it’s up to US, those around them, to help them be at their healthiest. And, more importantly, to know the warning signs if they aren’t. 

There are so many misconceptions about what builds a strong female athlete. The bottom line is that education is a help, not a hindrance. 

My Top Tips

I love working with female athletes, both as a parent and as a coach. There are hard parts, but I absolutely love the growth and connections I see in each player as well as each team. 

Building strong and confident female athletes is my secret weapon in building that spark that each team needs to win championships. To get the most out of my players. To work hard, but also to have fun and build trust. 

My ability to make my players believe in themselves and their own bodies is truly what it’s all about. I’ve been able to do that through teaching them about what fuels them, what doesn’t, and how to take ownership over their health and nutrition.

My top tips for building strong and confident female athletes are:

  1. Keep your athletes involved. Don’t just tell them what fuels them, ask them to take part. Have them choose their gametime snacks. Help them track their cycle. Ask them when they feel their strongest. Their involvement will ensure your success.
  1. Pay attention to your language. Self-esteem and confidence are so important when talking about health and nutrition. Be careful about the words you use to talk about bodies and food so they never feel shamed.
  1. Keep checking in. This is not a “one and done” approach! Keep talking. Keep checking. Give them worksheets to track their sleep, hydration, protein, etc. The more you check in, the more they will stay accountable. 

I could probably write a thousand more tips based on my own experiences, but these three are so important in keeping your athletes feeling strong and confident. 

Just remember that this is a process that may be different for each athlete, but the more you learn the more confident you’ll feel in empowering the female athlete in your life. 

Ready to Start Building Strong and Confident Female Athletes?

Right now you may be feeling overwhelmed with where to start.

Where do I go to learn this? What steps do I need to take?

I get that!

My eBook, “Fueling the Female Athlete,” has all of this information AND MORE!

It includes:

  • Hydration tips
  • Nutrition Information
  • Rest and Recovery Info
  • Positive Body Image Advice
  • Hormones and Female Anatomy Help

The research is evidence-based, it’s full of practical advice teenagers will actually use, and it’s all simplified and broken down.

Whether you’re a parent, coach, or someone who works with female athletes in some way, my book can help you. I know because I’ve been there. 

It’s time to start building strong and confident female athletes!

You’ve got it in you.

P.S. Find ALL of my programs for female athletes HERE!

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