“WOMEN NEED A DOUBLE NETWORK”
—— Sociologist Brian Uzzi explains why our casual acquaintances lead to success at work and why women benefit less from this than men.
Ultimate frisbee is currently one of the few sports where men and women play on the same team. The squad of our national team in Germany has between 24 to 28 players, and we try to keep an even gender balance between men and women.
Of course, it takes some getting used to at the beginning when women and men, who otherwise were used to playing separately, meet for the first time on the mixed team. For example, the tempo is very different. Often the men play faster unintentionally, which is why the women don’t get a chance to make plays. As coach, I then try to get the team to break those particular habits. For instance, you can use specific plays and tactics so that all players are equally integrated into the game, regardless of gender. I consciously assign the various positions out on the field according to abilities and not gender.
„Once the team has gotten used to playing together is when the advantages of heterogeneity really come to the fore. It gives the game a whole new character."
The speed changes, the dynamics become more complex than with an all-female or all-male team. Aside from which, mixed teams are much better at dealing with stressful situations and losses since the men and women bring different perspectives to the field and share them within the team. The multiplicity of perspectives really enhances the squad immensely. For me as the coach, the differences in the team are also very appealing. I can learn much more as a coach because I have to utilize different strategies for the men and for the women, which makes my coaching much more varied than it would be otherwise.
Then all the work really pays off at the major tournaments, like the 2019 European Championship. During the match for bronze against Russia, the disc was just whizzing through the air almost every second. It was dynamic, there was enthusiasm, excitement. We ultimately took fourth place—one of our best successes to date.