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The Biggest Problem Holding Back Girls’ Basketball

I coach and train a lot of girls and have worked with many very good female players. Too often, the lack of progress in the women’s game is blamed on males or sexism. However, I think the biggest problem holding back the game is the female athlete.

Not every athlete. As I said, I have worked with great players and enjoyed every minute of my time working with them.

Instead, I mean the female athletes who are all too willing to allow their femaleness to be an excuse for a lack of ability.

I worked out with a Division I college player today who could not do a push-up. When I told her that her little elbow dips were not push-ups, she said that they were push-ups to her. She was unwilling to try a full push-up and preferred to give up.

I hate this mentality. “I’m a girl. I can’t do…” That’s crap. You’re an athlete. If you are a Division I player and you cannot do a push-up, it is not because you are a girl. It is because you are lazy and do not care. Have you ever seen former Sacramento Monarch Ruthie Bolton? She would take out 98% of guys in a push-up contest. It has nothing to do with being a girl. It has everything to do with being a selective athlete.

If you want to be a Division I athlete, working out is part of the commitment. You cannot expect to show up and play. You have to train. You have to work hard. You have to be in great mental and physical condition. You cannot be a part-time basketball player at the Division I level.

If you play Intramurals and you want to make excuses because of your femininity for your lack of strength, whatever. But a Division I athlete? Show some pride.

When I was a personal trainer, I worked out with a 35-year-old dentist and single mother of three who squatted 185 pounds for three sets of eight repetitions. She did sets of 10 plyo push-ups. Not one set, several. If a professional mom has the strength to do 10 push-ups, there is no excuse that an athlete should be out of shape and unable to do 10 push-ups.

But, I see it from time to time. It is never the great players. The great players are fit, strong, motivated and disciplined. That is why they are the great players. Instead, it is the fringe players; the talented players who seem to underachieve.

For the good of the game, women’s basketball would be better if these girls simply quit rather than giving other girls and women a bad name because of their excuse-making. Instead, they have enough natural talent or skill (and it happens on the guy’s side too, though they tend to get weeded out quicker) to skate by and play with some success, despite their lack of desire.

If you’re an athlete, never use “but I’m a girl” as an excuse. It’s not. You’re an athlete and you should hope that your coaches treat you like an athlete, not like a little, helpless girl. Do not play to the 1950’s stereotype of women. Suck it up and work harder. Demand better.

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