Berky Book Review: How To Coach Girls
By Mia Wenjen and Alison Foley
Did you know that 70% of all kids stop playing organized sports by the age of 13, with girls quitting at 6X the rate of boys? This is both alarming and disheartening, given the many benefits we know girls can reap from sports participation.
Two Berky parents, Mia Wenjen–– a blogger, writer and sports mom–– and Alison Foley–– All-American Soccer Player and Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Boston College, set out to tackle this challenge in their new book, How to Coach Girls.
How To Coach Girls is a resource guide to help volunteer parents and experienced coaches alike create a successful team that inspires girls and motivates them to stay in sports beyond the middle school years. The book includes advice from 15 professional coaches across a range of sports as well as from Olympic athletes on what girls need from a coach to flourish in sports.
70% of all kids stop playing organized sports by the age of 13, with girls quitting at 6X the rate of boys?
Differences Between Girls & Boys
The cornerstones of this book are a recognition of the vast differences that exist between girls and boys, and the distinctive needs these differences create for girls. The authors contend that, in order for girls to realize their full potential, their specific needs must be specifically addressed in the way coaches develop their female players.
For example, boys are generally more confident and tend to inflate their abilities, whereas girls often doubt their own abilities; they are afraid to fail and let down their coach and teammates. Additionally, it is important for girls to be viewed as “whole persons,” not just as athletes. This means that coaches must focus on keeping it fun, building team chemistry and creating a safe and nurturing environment so the girls feel comfortable with the possibility of failure. Girls who trust their coach and feel a strong camaraderie with their teammates will work harder and progress faster.
Addressing Girl-Centric Issues
The book also discusses specific issues that tend to be more prevalent in girls’ sports and how coaches can best address them.
Some of these issues include: playing time, choosing captains, cliques, body image and puberty. One example relates to nutrition, which is vitally important for female athletes. Proper nutrition– including carbohydrates for energy– provides the fuel female bodies needfor stamina, strength and speed. However, these nutritional needs are often in conflict with female body image issues that can arise when there is a strong focus on food. The challenge for coaches is to talk about food in a positive way– in terms of fuel and energy for the body, without giving too much instruction on how and what to eat.
A Practical Hands-On Guidebook
The book’s final sections offer practical guidance to help coaches plan out their seasons. This includes charting out team-building activities as well as developing team/player/parent codes of conduct and team/player goals and evaluations.
The Berky Connection
How To Coach Girls aligns with the coaching philosophy we follow at the Berkshire Soccer Academy, where we embrace the wonderful uniqueness of coaching girls. All of our professional coaches focus on helping our athletes achieve greatness on and off the field– in other words, on developing the whole person, not just the player. Our coaching success is evidenced by the high number of campers who return to BSA summer after summer– and the many alumnae who continue to play soccer in high school and college. The authors of the book, Mia and Allison, know this first-hand because their daughters both attended BSA.
Impact of the Book
The authors wrote this book to provide both professional and volunteer parent coaches with a valuable resource to turn to when preparing for a new season. Coaches have the significant ability to impact the lives of young girls. The hope is that, with a better approach to coaching girls, many more girls will return to play season after season.
Order a Copy of How to Coach Girls
To order a copy of “How To Coach Girls,” click on the link below. As part of our BSA family, you will receive an exclusive 10% discount.
- Mia Wenjen blogs on education, parenting and children’s books at PragmaticMom. She’s the co-creator of Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and co-founder of Aquent, a global creative staffing agency. In addition to co-writing How To Coach Girls, Mia’s first picture book, SUMO JOE, is out March of 2019. You can connect with Mia on social media here: Twitter: PragmaticMom, Pinterest: PragmaticMom, Instagr
- Alison Foley is the head women’s soccer coach at Boston College which has made the NCAA Final Four and final 8 during 13 consecutive NCAA play-off appearances. During her 20+ year coaching career, she has coached many national team level players. She started playing soccer at a young age at both school and club soccer teams, and received ODP regional and national invitations. As a college All-American, she enjoyed a successful career playing at another competitive level. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in exercise science.