Training the Female Athlete

In this Podcast, Peter Melanson interviews Diane Vives – director of Vives Training Systems in Austin, Texas, on training female athletes. Peter asks Diane a series of questions in regards to female athletes versus male athletes on how to train better, the differences between training, and the types of injuries caused from the training between men and women athletes. Diane answers with questions with research and studies that supports her theories and reasoning’s to her ways of training the female athlete.

Diane explains that as trainers and coaches that we need to recognize with men and female athletes that we are seeing specific trends with female athletes that we need to do a better job at recognizing. The evidence is that the females are lacking certain performance activities and more importantly that there are a tremendous amount of injuries in female athletes. The research is back this up and it also shows that as coaches and trainers – there are no improvements to these cases.

The amount of females are dropping out of sports and fitness all together because of the drastic injuries being caused to these female athletes such as ACL and knee injuries. Peter asked Diane, what are some of the specific things that affect the females the most? Diane reported that incidents of 4 to 6 times greater ACL and knee injuries with females versus male and some times the number increases up to 8-10 times greater when looking at non contact ACL injuries. She included, that we need ways to reduce this number because injuries such as ACL and knee injuries are drastic.

She also included that another difference between male and female athletes are the lack of upper body strength in females. As coaches and trainers, they are afraid to train upper body for females because they are afraid that the females will bulky, which research and studies show that this is a myth. Diane emphasizes that this is extremely important. When we train female athletes, the intensity lacks because we do not have a higher expectations than we do have for male athletes.

We have to approach the female and really create a higher expectation for training intensity, Diane explains. Research study show that when you put a female and male athlete together and make everything relatively the same with body, mass size – the size of the athlete, and you ask the female athlete what they perceived their level of intensity is. The females consistently felt like they were training at a much higher intensity than the males did. Peter asks Diane what are some examples for coaches and trainers to change to make a positive impact on their female athletes right away.

Diane explained that in order to make a dramatic change right away, one of the best way is to incorporate a dynamic warm up that includes flexibility, basic strength training and teaching plyometric. Diane includes the work “teaching’ because it is important that the athletes understand how to land and decelerate in order to reduce any injuries and to have progression.

Including basic coordinative bimotor skills that include speed agility and quickness drills is also important into incorporating into the female athletes training to dramatically make a change and even reducing the ACL and knee injuries by 73%. In summary, Diane explains that coaches and trainers need to look at the female athlete differently versus being afraid of getting bulky and to have higher expectations. Incorporating dynamic warm ups can significantly decrease the amount of injuries drastically in the female athlete. It’s important to focus both on the male and female athletes and to increase the expectations of the female athletes now versus in the past.