It has occurred to me in the past that female athletes are excellent students. Over the course of my life time, I’ve been privileged to train with athletes at every level, both females and males. While my focus has been primarily in the track and field space, I’d venture to say that my exposure to training at the professional level is far from average. I mention this because I want to give some perspective to my insight before being judged. This isn’t a simple observation with very little merit. However, it is a short sighted perspective in that I haven’t done expert level research. So, here goes.
Through my experience with female athletes, I have been truly impressed with their skills in nearly every sport at the highest levels. It appears that female athletes have greater command of the mechanics than their male counterparts in many cases. My own observations have brought me to the conclusion that female athletes (generally speaking) have better fundamentals at a younger age.
You say what led me to this conclusion? Well, my experience training and working with female athletes has proven over and over again across sports like basketball, track, and even softball, that female athletes rely less on power and speed. They are well trained and understand their mechanics because they are forced to rely on the fundamentals first. Their physical abilities may be similar or in some cases as good or better than some male’s. However, as they progress to collegiate sports and beyond, their fundamentals prove to be the difference between their continued success.
For example, the top female free throw shooter of all-time, Elena Delle Donne, has a higher free throw percentage than Stephen Curry, who is the NBA’s all-time leader. This isn’t an area where athleticism and power allows the male athlete to dominate. As such, it is an indicator of fundamentals being used to showcase skill versus athleticism.
In college, female athletes in track and field were truly experts in the field events and hurdles. Their mechanics were always impressive and superb at the All-American level. Of course, they weren't average in any way. Female athletes maximize their potential through mastering mechanics. You couldn’t get many males with similar speed at the high school level to actually compete against collegiate females in track. Take a female who runs 12 seconds in the 100 meters and long jumps nearly 20 feet in the long jump. A male with the same speed would be unable to jump 20 feet in the long jump in many cases because they would not develop the mechanics.
I can imagine a time when female athletes could compete against men in certain sports. Now, some might say that’s going too far, but skill level sports might see significant advances as we encourage young ladies to participate earlier in life. There has been some research around women compare to men in skiing. The results were inconclusive, but the idea of women competing against men deserves some consideration. I think on the basis of recognizing that women today would easily beat men from years past based on this data, the conversation should include more specific and relative comparisons.
This might seem a bit out there, but give me a female athlete who is fundamentally sound in any sport, and I know that she will fulfill her potential. On the other hand, a male athlete who is gifted without the proper mechanics is not worthy of the praise that we give them until they respect their given sport by perfecting the fundamentals. I hope that my two girls will grow up to prove some of these thoughts to shine true. Women are masters of mechanics.
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