Nicole LaVoi, PhD, former Tennis: Europe Coach talks about female athletes and coaches

Nicole LaVoi, PhD, was a Tennis: Europe Coach for five summers during the 1990s and since, has gone on to be a senior lecturer for the College of Education & Human Development, School of Kinesiology, at the University of Minnesota.  She is also associate director for the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport.  We are proud of her accomplishments since working for us.  She will be part of a sportsmanship panel discuss this coming week at the national convention of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) in New Orleans where she will share new research around character and moral development in sport.

      She was recently profiled in ADDvantage Magazine of the USPTA from which we excerpt some of her important points:

Is coaching girls different from coaching boys?  "Based on the data, there aren't many psychosocial differences in coaching girls and boys -- good coaching is good coaching.  ..When coaches meet an athlete's needs, regardless of gender, the athlete will be more likely to experience well-being, satisfaction and optimal performance, and enjoy their tennis experience."

What have you learned in your research about coaching girls and women?  "First, girls and women want to play sports and love sports just as much as boys and men. When females are given opportunities to play sports, they do, and it's important they do because it can lead to positive developmental, health, academic and economic outcomes for them throughout their lives."  We need more women coaches because they are role models that matter as they challenge stereotypes about gender and leadership..."  "When Amelie Mauresmo was hired by Andy Murray, it created discussion because she was breaking a gender barrier and she illustrated that women can be, and are, great coaches."

    "We also need to see more women's sport in the sport media.  Women's sport only gets 2 to 4 percent of all sport media coverage, despite the fact that about 43 percent of all athletes are female...we still have a long way to go before we achieve representational, proportionate and respectful coverage for women's athletics."


What did you like best about playing college tennis (this couild also be said of high school tennis)?  "There is nothing I didn't like about playign college tennis!  I made lifelong friends whom I still count as my most cherished people in my life.  I got to travel the U.S., and after college, the world due to tennis (Note: Much of that was as a Tennis; Europe Coach).  I learned many valuable lessons during my college playing days that I didn't fully appreciate until much later--for example, the proecss and how you treat others is mroe important than the outcome and winning...I continue to learn from my collegiate playing days."

Note: Nicole played for a top Division 3 program, Gustavus Adolphus in Minneapolis).


   To our readers: What do you think about Nicole's comments, especially our female athletic readers?  Would you want more female coaches and if you have a male coach, wish to have him replaced by a female coach?  Should girls in junior tennis be coached differently than boys are?  Who do you look up to as female coaches in tennis or in other sports?  Let's hear from you at or on our Facebook page.