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Does it matter whether your weightlifting coach is a man or a woman?

Summary of an article analyzing a data set of weightlifting results for male and female athletes and the gender of their coaches.

Who

3252 Olympic weightlifters and their coaches with year-end rankings in total weight lifted for 2021 (USA).

Design

Data from the United States Weightlifting.

Outcome measures

  • total lifted (weight lifted in snatch + clean & jerk)
  • athlete’s weight class (Women: from <48 to 75+; Man: from <56 to 105+)
  • athlete’s age
  • coach’s gender

Main results

Does it matter whether your weightlifting coach is a man or a woman? Infographic

  • 12.3% of female and 6.7% of male weightlifters had a female coach
  • Female coach was negatively correlated with total weight lifted for both male and female athletes. Female athletes with a female coach have lifted 22 kg less than female athletes with a male coach. Male athletes with a female coach have lifted 16 kg less than male athletes with a male coach.
  • For female athletes coached by a female coach as they age, every year is associated with an increase of 0.52 kg in total weight lifted. There is no similar association as male athletes age.
  • In general, younger athletes (both male and female) had better weightlifting results when coached by a male coach. But female weightlifters had better results with female coach as they aged (above the age of 40).

Take home message

For a clinician & coach
Female coaches were highly underrepresented. Younger athletes (both male and female) had better weightlifting results when coached by a male coach. But female weightlifters had better results with female coach as they aged (above 40 years of age).
For a parent
Younger athletes (both male and female) had better weightlifting results when coached by a male coach. But female weightlifters had better results with female coach as they aged (above 40 years of age).
For an athlete
Younger athletes (both male and female) had better weightlifting results when coached by a male coach. But female weightlifters had better results with female coach as they aged (above 40 years of age).

Original article

Mire A, Foreman JJ, Heintz E. The Effect of Coach Gender on Competitive Weightlifting Performance for Men and Women Weightlifters. Frontiers in Sociology. 2020;5:139.

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