Creating a Positive Gym Atmosphere for Female Boxers
Boxing programs compete with many other sporting programs when recruiting athletes. One of the best recruiting tools is a gym atmosphere that inspires confidence while welcoming a diverse population through the doors. While women are minorities in our sport, their participation in boxing can be rewarding for coaches, and can help recruit more boxers into our gyms. In light of the possibility of women’s participation in the 2012 Olympic Games, it is likely that boxing gyms will see a greater number of girls and women interested in the sport.
When considering recruiting and retaining female boxers, there are a few things that will send the message that the people in the gym welcome female boxers, and will actively manage risk.
- Girls and women should be treated like boxers. The gym is a place to work at boxing, not a place to flirt or make others feel uncomfortable.
- Provide a designated area for changing clothes, where girls and women can feel safe from people walking in on them. Some gyms may have designated locker rooms or restrooms for women and men. For smaller gyms, a simple restroom that locks will do the trick.
- Minimize fear of the unknown; this attitude will maximize the likelihood that boxers will enjoy training and competition. Girls and women are typically not raised in households where girls' boxing is encouraged. A good coach will indicate what's involved in boxing training and competition, and communicate this to female boxers.
- Give regular feedback. Communicate strengths and progress, as well as weaknesses, to your boxer, so she knows that her hard work in the gym is paying off, and that she is training the correct way.
- Use accurate language when making notes, flyers and posters. Boxers need to know which events are for them. Unless an event includes both male and female participants, qualify all events by gender. For example, the 2009 National PAL Championships (San Antonio, October 17-24) includes men, women, boys and girls. However, when referring to Golden Gloves Championships, there are two separate events for men and women in 2009, so be specific about whether you are referring to the "2009 Men's National Golden Gloves" or the "2009 Women's National Golden Gloves."
- Make your welcome known. When creating marketing materials for your gym, whether flyers, ads, talks in schools, or giving an interview to the press, mention that you welcome the participation of girls and women.
- Recruit a woman to serve as a coach, referee/judge, physician, or administrator in your gym, so female boxers don't feel alone in a "men's, only, gym."
By creating an open and safe environment in our gyms, we send a message that all boxers are welcome to train, regardless of race, class or gender. More boxers in our gyms can lead to more success, as well as stronger local, regional and national teams.