Training The Female Athlete  – They’re Just Girls!

Going into the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, many were looking forward to watching the Men’s Hockey squad bring home gold.  When the games were over, you would often hear “Did you watch the Women’s gold medal game?  That was CRAZY!!!”  For those that missed it, the intensity and compete-level of the women’s gold medal match-up superseded that of all but one of the Men’s series.

Over the past 5 years CoreXcellence has had the opportunity to coach many female athletes ranging from the high school, collegiate and International level.  I’m often told “An athlete is an athlete, don’t you train them just like the guys?!”  Well how about you leave the coaching to our team of professionals and let me explain how/why it’s a little different?!


The Obvious


The two major strength concerns when training the female athlete are upper body strength and addressing the “Q angle” (hip line is wider than knee line).


We often hear that women are more prone to having knee injuries due to their wider hips that lay outside the knee line.  In addressing the Q angle we ensure sufficient ankle mobility, as well as glute strength to help stabilize the knee joint.  A common coaching cue – “Squat Deep and keep your knees at least in line with your baby toes throughout the lift”.

For the upper body, “Just SQUEEZE the bar and PULL or PUSH!” – so simple but yet so challenging.

The Imperative


In taking from one of the many lessons I’ve learned from Joe Ehrmann’s “InSide OutCoaching”, our goal as coaches is to empower the athlete, boosting self-confidence and/or reducing self-doubt by helping the athlete achieve what they thought was impossible.  In my opinion, here lies the challenge in coaching the female athlete.

InSide Out Coaching

Being 10 years into my second marriage, I guess I didn’t learn from the first one, the one question that comes up most often is “Why do you worry so much about things that are completely out of your control?!”




In coaching the athletes, especially the girls, we have them identify a 2-3 point checklist to go over right before the lifts.  Three things that they can own, control and execute.  One of our powerlifters increased her front squat by 40 lbs. in two weeks by focusing on her mini checklist instead of the many “what ifs” that were out of her control.  Her checklist: exhale hard to lock down the ‘core’, elbows up and keep the knees out – so simple and effective.

Bronze Medal at Nationals




Summing it up


In coaching the female athlete remember the basics:

  • Build a strong & balanced lower body – that’s where the power starts
  • Create stiffness in the core – that’s where the power transfers.
  • Don’t shy away from upper body strength – that’s where the power transfers to the hockey stick, 3-point shot or the bar.

Above all, help them #BELIEVE in their abilities, and focus on that only.  Master the checklist and everything else will fall into place.






Don White – Performance Enhancement Specialist

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required