Three bonus chapters in new eBook of How To Coach Girls!

New How To Coach Girls ebook with 3 bonus chapters! Purchase it here.

There are 3 bonus chapters in eBook of How To Coach Girls:

  • When Girls Don’t Want to Be at Practice
  • Integrating Injured Players
  • Making Connections Team Building Games

Three bonus chapters in new eBook of How To Coach Girls!

When Girls Don’t Want to be at Practice

We heard from parent volunteer coaches who coach younger girls’ teams. What do you do when a parent has signed up their daughter to try a sport but she doesn’t want to be there? Perhaps she is not participating or distracting others. How do you get these players engaged?

Integrating Injured Players

Whether it’s a long term injury or a short term one, how do you keep injured players from feeling like they are part of the team when they can’t do the practice?

Making Connections

We have found that girls stay in sports when they have meaningful social connections with teammates and coaches. Sports is a great way to meet new people and coaches can facilitate connections between girls through quick, fun, and easy icebreakers and games that are easy to integrate into a practice. Special thanks to Sidnie Kulik, Alison’s daughter, for the ice breaker games and topics in this chapter!

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Alison Foley Featured in Positive Coaching Alliance

Thank you to Positive Coaching Alliance for featuring Alison on your blog!

ALISON FOLEY: WORK HARD, HAVE FUN, AND REMAIN POSITIVE

 


ALISON FOLEY: 
Work Hard, Have Fun, and Remain Positive

  1. Why did you become a coach?

The college coach who recruited me, Dave Lombardo who had moved to JMU in Virginia, asked if I would come down and be his graduate assistant coach. I found out I loved coaching! I realized through the game that I loved to play, I could now coach and impact players both on and off the field.

  1. You coached your 2018 team, your last team at BC, to a 14-5-1 record, and your 15thNCAA appearance. Congratulations. You have coached some impressive winning teams over the years, what made the difference for those teams?

I think the most important element on our most successful teams has undoubtedly been a result of great team chemistry. In college you spend a lot of time with your teammates. Often you live with them, eat with them, take classes and travel with them.   Your team truly becomes your surrogate family in college.

  1. What makes a team successful, on the scoreboard and off the field?

I think when you can instill a sense of pride in your players both as being a member of the team and someone who represents their school and community you will have someone that is truly focused on your core values and works hard every day to uphold a standard of excellence.

  1. You coached at the college level for 22 years, but you also ran clinics for girls at BC for many years. How would you compare coaching young campers to coaching college players?

From a soccer specific perspective; with your younger players you are really emphasizing the fundamentals of the game and the technical aspects of soccer. In college you work more on tactics, game management, and the physical side of the game. With both audiences you want to emphasize having fun and working hard.

  1. You co-wrote a book How to Coach Girls, why? Who is the book for, and what level coach?

Writing the book was really encouraged by co-author, Mia Wenjen. Our girls grew up together and whenever she had an issue with one of her kids coaches or with their teams she would run it by me. Finally, she said you really need to write a book and share these coaching and team dynamic solutions.

The book is really focused on youth players and can be helpful for parents, coaches, and soccer organizations. Mia and I have really enjoyed meeting with youth sport organizations and discussing the book.

  1. How has coaching changed in the 21 years since you began at BC? What is better? What is worse?

I think the biggest part of college coaching that has changed is the recruiting. It is happening a lot earlier. Nobody takes their 5 official visits their senior year anymore to explore their schools. They make a decision much earlier now. I think it was better in the earlier years of my career as you had more time to mature and truly make an educated decision.

  1. Who is in your “coaching tree”? 

One of my former players is Kia McNeill, Head Coach at Brown University. Three of my former assistants are now college head coaches: Chris Hamblin at Harvard University, Neel Bhattacharjee at Binghamton University, and Sarah Dacey at Barry University.

What has been exciting is how many players are coaching as assistants in college or head coaches in high school and club. We’ve got lots of players that are soccer moms and coaching their daughters as well.

  1. I hear you believe in yoga for soccer players – tell me more. 

I really believe in yoga and certainly think it offers so many benefits to soccer players. First yoga teaches mindfulness and how to breathe. Which I think is so important in tight games or in preparation for matches or practice for that matter. It also increases flexibility and strengthens your core which is really neglected in typical practice settings. It works your balance and stability which I believe certainly decreases ankle and knee injuries.

  1. Why did you start Foley Athletic Advising (FAA)?

I started Foley Athletic Advising because I felt with all my experiences through college coaching, directing a club and being a soccer mom myself I could provide a service to players and families and help them navigate this ever so tricky college recruiting process. The process can bring a lot of stress to players and families alike and I try to streamline the process and give guidance to make it more of a stress-free and positive experience.

  1. What will your counseling involve? In person consultations? Showcases? On and off the field training?   You have an assessment session coming up: February 18, 10-11:30 am in Newton, what will that involve?

I do individual counseling in which we develop your own personal road map in the recruiting process. From developing a college list of schools that are right for you to directing communication between college coaches and how best to get yourself evaluated. The assessments are training sessions that evaluate your technical, fitness level and tactical awareness. The sessions are videotaped and analyzed by our staff and then we provide a written evaluation and recommendation on a collegiate level that is right for you. The New England Top 100 College Showcase is June 8th and June 9th at Brandies University. It is an invitation only showcase where club coaches recommend their top players to participate. You can also get invited by going to an assessment and being selected.

  1. What is your goal with FAA?

The goal is really to create opportunities and offer direction to high school athletes that aspire to play in college.

  1. 20th anniversary of the 99ers World Cup win in the Rose Bowl is coming up – what did that game mean to you? To soccer for girls and women?

I think this was a monumental tournament for all of us girls women in the game. It shattered attendance and TV viewing records, and sold more team paraphernalia than any sport after a major tournament.

On the bigger stage it represented gender equality and was so influential proving that women could perform at such a technically high level and at such a great pace that could captivate any audience.

  1. Have any predictions for this year’s World Cup winner? Why did you pick them?

I do. But I am going to not share it . . . haha! I hope the U.S. of course wins.

  1. You were an All-American, spent 22 years coaching at the college level, and are a soccer mom yourself, do you have any advice for parents of young soccer players?

I think the best piece of advice I can give to parents is always remain positive.On the side-lines, in the car ride after the game and with other parents. It’s easy to be critical of the coaches and your child or other players on their team but it doesn’t serve any purpose to share your opinion unless its positive. Remember, soccer is a game and games are meant to be fun. So do everything to keep it upbeat and enjoyable. Your words and comments are powerful.

 

Alison Foley Featured in Boston Globe

Alison Foley Boston Globe

Alison Foley, co-author of How To Coach Girls, is featured in the Boston Globe.

 

BE MAGAZINE

How young is too young to recruit kids for college teams?

As women’s soccer coach at Boston College, Alison Foley grappled with practices that had girls committing to teams while in middle school.

Alison Foley, the winningest coach in the history of Boston College women’s soccer, became troubled by the sharp rise in recruiting middle school girls through “verbal commitments.”Alison Foley, the winningest coach in the history of Boston College women’s soccer, became troubled by the sharp rise in recruiting middle school girls through “verbal commitments.” (JONATHAN WIGGS / GLOBE STAFF)

 

By the time Alison Foley entered her senior year at Plymouth-Carver High School in 1987, there was little doubt she was headed for big things in college soccer. Still, under NCAA rules, she waited until that fall to take her five official college visits and decide where to spend the next four years. She ultimately accepted an athletic scholarship to Keene State College, going on to earn All-America honors.

But as the head women’s soccer coach for Boston College for the last two decades, Foley saw the landscape change dramatically. On the books, the NCAA now required prospective recruits to wait until junior year to visit colleges. In reality, though, at most elite Division I women’s soccer programs, team rosters were all set by the time of those visits. College coaches had long ago buttoned up their recruiting class through an off-the-books “verbal commitment” process that made the official one look like something of a sham.

The trend started with offers to 10th-graders, and then ninth-graders. About six years ago, Foley was troubled to see Division I coaches turn their focus to eighth-graders. The nonbinding verbal commitments were contingent on the girls being able to keep up their grades to meet college admissions standards for recruited athletes.

Still, how in the world were girls supposed to make that kind of consequential decision about college while in middle school, Foley wondered. Yet she could only see the trend accelerating. She’d become the winningest coach in the history of women’s soccer at BC. But for her program to continue thriving in the intense Atlantic Coast Conference, she’d need to spend time talking to middle school girls.

NCAA rules prevented her from initiating calls or sending texts to any girls before junior year. But it was perfectly legal for college coaches to give their phone numbers to promising players’ club coaches and then wait for those girls to call.

When they did call, Foley found that questions she typically asked high schoolers didn’t make much sense. “Do you want to do business or economics?” she says. “Half of them don’t even understand what economics is. They still have a piggy bank.” She noted that a large share of middle schoolers gravitated to colleges near them, too young to imagine ever being away from home.

Foley’s own daughter was developing into a more serious soccer player, and Foley felt a gulf growing between the advice she was giving as a parent and the strategy she was pursuing on the job. She told her daughter: Give yourself the chance to bloom academically, develop physically, and get to know yourself better so you can make a well-reasoned college choice. But as a coach, she joined her competitors in pursuing the top middle school athletes. “My value system,” she says, “wasn’t lining up.”

Lilly Reale and her younger sister, Sophie, had been all-in on soccer since shortly after they joined the South Shore Select soccer club eight years ago. Both committed as eighth-graders to playing for Boston College. Lilly, a chatty 15-year-old defender and member of the US national soccer team for her age group, has played in Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, and China. Sophie, a ponytailed 14-year-old striker who wears braces, just returned from her first overseas trip, to Spain.

Their mom, Melissa, says all the shuttling to practices and tournaments has been challenging but worth it. “It’s not easy being a 14- or 15-year-old girl in today’s society,” she says, “and I think soccer has been a wonderful distraction for them.”

She says she and her husband, Jeff, were careful never to pressure their kids to get a free ride to college via sports. Instead, they hoped soccer would eventually help their girls get into a good college that would be a good fit. Alison Foley had a close association with their soccer club and saw the girls develop over the years. The Reales felt reassured their daughters would be in good hands with her at BC.

Just before Christmas, though, Boston College made an announcement that stunned the world of women’s soccer. After 22 years, Foley was resigning as head coach. Other veteran BC coaches had departed following the arrival of a new athletic director on campus, but, with Foley’s record 280 wins, few people had seen her exit coming.

“I made the decision,” Foley says. “It wasn’t necessarily one thing. I’m a big relationship person, and things have to feel right for me.”

Lilly Reale learned the news while scrolling through Instagram and called her mom in tears. The entire family felt bewildered. They had nothing in writing to back up the verbal commitments. Would the new BC coach “decommit” one or both of the girls?

Foley says now, “When I gave the offer to Sophie, I certainly didn’t think I was going to leave so soon.”

After BC named Foley’s replacement in January, and he got a chance to see both Lilly and Sophie play, he made it clear BC remained committed to them, according to their mother. Though the Reales remain grateful for what soccer has done for the family, everyone’s eyes are open wider now. “Five years is a long time away,” Melissa says. “When the girls started in soccer, did I think they would be committing to a college in the eighth grade? Absolutely not.”

These days, Foley runs a consulting business advising girls (mostly high schoolers) and their families on how best to navigate the waters of college soccer. She tells her clients to choose their college based largely on what the campus offers. “If they have engineering, they’re going to have engineering four or five years from now,” she says. “But the coach might not be there.”

Foley loves her new role but acknowledges that she has her work cut out for her in trying to make the recruiting process less stressful. “There’s too much panic, in parents, in players,” she says. “Once a kid commits, it’s on their Instagram. Then everybody else thinks, ‘Oh no, there’s one less slot available. That window is closing. I’ve got to hurry up and make a decision.’ ”

All of this is leading to burnout and rushed decisions and, in some ways, lost childhood. The pressure that starts as early as kindergarten soccer and escalates all the way to the college quad has become insanely fierce, she says. “I think it’s unstoppable.”

But there is one surprising new development that has left her feeling more optimistic. On April 19, the NCAA adopted a new rule that prohibits coaches in many sports, including women’s soccer, from having any communication with prospective recruits before the end of their sophomore year in high school. The restriction went into effect May 1.

I ask Foley if she thinks this new rule will fix the problems, or if coaches and families will simply find a new loophole. (The NCAA decided against an outright ban on verbal commitments, saying it would be too hard to enforce.) She replies, “I hope everybody abides by it, and they don’t fight it.”

This conversation I’m having with Foley takes place on the last day of April, the eve of the new rule going into effect. “There are probably a lot of calls going on right now” between coaches and kids trying to wrap up verbal commitments, she cracks. “And there will be all night.”

If the new policy helps bring some sanity back to recruiting, she says, she might even want to return to coaching. Right now, she’s content to take the advice she gave her daughter — a 10th-grader who has yet to commit to a college — and just slow down.


Neil Swidey is the Globe Magazine’s staff writer. E-mail him at swidey@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @neilswidey.

Cover Reveal of HOW TO COACH GIRLS & Two Free Chapter Giveaway!

We are thrilled to reveal the cover of How To Coach Girls!

Volunteer parents and experienced coaches alike will find invaluable advice on creating a successful team that motivates girls to stay in sports beyond the middle school years. Twenty-two chapters cover major issues, including how to pick captains, the importance of growth mindset, issues around body image and puberty, as well as the challenges of coaching your own daughter.

In addition, fifteen professional coaches from a range of sports, including former Olympian athletes, give their advice on what girls need from a coach to allow them to flourish in sports, and most importantly, have fun.

2 Chapter GIVEAWAY of How To Coach Girls

We am giving away two chapters of How To Coach Girls. You can download it here.

Continue reading “Cover Reveal of HOW TO COACH GIRLS & Two Free Chapter Giveaway!”

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila – Volleyball

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila, Volleyball Coach

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila

Fabian (Fabe) Ardila has coached volleyball for close to thirty years starting when he was eighteen years old. He coached high school volleyball for both boys and girls including Newton South, Wellesley, Sacred Heart, and Weston High Schools. He was the assistant coach for Harvard University as well. He currently also coaches at the club level for Smash Volleyball, as well as at his own club, MGA. For the U.S.A. Women’s National Volleyball Team, Fabe was a coach for the setters who competed at the Rio Olympics under Coach Karch Kiraly. He is currently working U.S.A. Volleyball with high performance athletes who train for future Olympics, including the national teams. Last, but certainly not least, he coached his three daughters who all play at a high level.

  Fabian (Fabe) Ardila, Volleyball Coach

On Coaching Your Own Daughters

I think listening is a key component when coaching your own daughters. We don’t do a good job at listening both on the parent side, and as their parent/coach. We don’t really listen and understand when our kids tell us what is going on and what difficulties they are having. We just assume that they should be doing things a certain way. If we listened a little better, and had better communication between the player (who is your son or daughter), and the coach, I think that would go a long way. It’s interesting because I’ve coached all three of my daughters, and each one had a different personality. But I believe the success that we had with each one of them had to do with talking in a way that each one understood what I was trying to get out of them, and pushing them just enough so that I wasn’t alienating them from me being a dad, or from our team and the things we wanted to do as a team.

For more advice from Fabe including how he gets his players to love the game, please read How To Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls


Kelly Doton: Women’s Field Hockey

Kelly Doton

Kelly Doton
Boston College

Head Coach Women’s Field Hockey

Doton became head coach of the Boston College field hockey program in 2015. She started as associate head coach at Boston College in 2012, and previously coached at Indiana University.

In Doton’s four seasons, Boston College has posted double-digit wins each year and has advanced to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons (2013-2015).

A 2004 graduate of Wake Forest, Doton was an asset to the Demon Deacons on both sides of the ball during her collegiate career, helping to lead her squad to back-to-back NCAA championships. 

In addition to being named the ACC Player of the Year in 2002, she was also a two-time NFHCA First-Team All-American and a three-time All-ACC honoree during her career.

In addition to her collegiate playing experience, Doton was a member of the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team from 2005-10. In 2008, she was part of the U.S. squad that traveled to the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

Kelly Doton 

What is your best piece of advice to a girls youth coach? 

Honesty is the best coaching approach. Criticism is never easy to hear and some young female coaches have a tendency to sugar coat coaching when it comes to things players can improve on. I hear a lot of youth coaches who acknowledge and congratulate athletes for things that shouldn’t be commended. In my opinion, that is validating bad play as acceptable. It’s the blue-ribbon society we live in where kids are getting a trophy just for playing. Be fair, be honest, and be open to the players. Treat your number 1 player on your depth chart just the same as the one sitting in last place.

 

For Kelly Doton’s team building exercise for selecting team captains, please read How to Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls

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Sarah Dacey – Soccer

Sarah Dacey Soccer

Sarah Dacey

Women’s Soccer Head Coach

Barry University

Sarah Dacey joined Barry University as Head Coach in 2016 after spending the previous season as an Assistant Coach under Denise Brolly. Previously, Dacey was the head coach at Babson College, as well as club head with the FC Bolts and Pinecrest Premier Soccer Club. She served as an assistant coach at the University of Albany, Boston College, Providence College, and the University of Tennessee. As an assistant at Boston College, she helped lead the Eagles to the 2010 Women’s College Cup.

Dacey played professionally for the WUSA’s Carolina Courage and Boston Breakers until 2003, when she took over as head girls’ soccer coach at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass.

A four-year letterwinner and three-year starter under legendary coach Anson Dorrance at UNC, Dacey helped lead the Tar Heels’ soccer program to three National Championships while earning Honorable Mention All-American honors in 1996. The Tar Heels went an amazing 98-3-1 during her career. She was also a three-year member and two-time All-American selection in women’s lacrosse, leading the Tar Heels all the way to the Final Four on two occasions.

Sarah Dacey Soccer

Best advice To a New Coach

I would say don’t under estimate how competitive girls can be and how much they want to learn. I found that the more competitive I would make practice, the more enjoyable and the more intense and invested the players would be. Girls love to compete. Communication is also very important. Girls are people pleasers by nature so they want to feel like they are doing right by their coaches and they want to work hard. Positive reinforcement and encouragement are essential. At the end of the day, the players want to have “fun” but as coaches it is our responsibility to still teach the game the right way. There is no reason why coaches can’t make sessions enjoyable where the players are learning at the same time. Finding that balance is key.

For Sarah Dacey’s team building game called “Zimbabwe,” please read How To Coach Girls coming out March 2018.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls


Mary-Frances Monroe – Soccer

Mary-Frances Monroe Soccer

Mary-Frances Monroe

Women’s Soccer Head Coach

University of Miami

Mary-Frances Monroe has been the head soccer coach at University of Miami since 2016, after seven years as the head coach of the University of Albany. A well-respected player and instructor, Monroe competed on the field with the Boston Breakers of the WPSL Elite League as recently as the 2012 season.

Charged with building the Great Danes program from the ground up, Monroe and her coaching staff won 2009 America East Co-Coaching Staff of the Year honors in just her fourth year at the helm. During that season, the Great Danes earned the first Division I postseason berth in program history.

Just one year later in 2010, the Great Danes finished with a 10-8-2 record under Monroe’s direction – the first winning season for the program since 1988.

A four-year college All-American at the University of Connecticut and UCLA, Monroe was a candidate for the Hermann Trophy, awarded to the best female college soccer player in the country. As a freshman with the Huskies, the Northport, N.Y., native set the program’s single-season record with 65 points. Monroe was rewarded for her spectacular debut with BIG EAST Rookie of the Year honors and first-team all-conference recognition.

Monroe also achieved success on the international level as a player, earning several caps with the United States Women’s National Team.

Mary-Frances Monroe Soccer

 

What is your best piece of advice to a girls youth coach?

Be honest and communicate. Communication is so important at all levels. It is so important to be positive when a player does something well.

Understand your players. Some players may need more positive reinforcement than others. Sometimes those players may even need you to say “great pass” even if it was a 15 yard pass completed under pressure. Make sure you understand that isn’t praising a player for making a mistake. This is helping a player build confidence.

There are also times that you need to be hard/demanding on a player. They want to know what they are doing wrong and how to fix it. Just yelling at a player telling them what they already know doesn’t help a player develop. These kids are human and will make mistakes, but they need to understand that at the next level making continuous mistakes may cause them limited playing time.

I tell my players I am their biggest fan but I am hard and I am demanding. I want to help develop them into the best player that they can be and help them follow their goals and dreams and the goals of the team.

Another piece of advice is to hold them accountable. You may have a super star that thinks they can get away with anything because they are “good” and/or the “best player on the team”. I have coached players that are the best on the team but their body language is poor when they make a mistake. I pull them over and explain to them they need to set a better example for the team. How do you think your teammates will feel if I let you get away with your poor body language. Think about someone who doesn’t play a lot and I continue to play you even though you don’t follow our rule of having good body language. This has been a great lesson for players like that. For this particular player, I understood as a coach she was just upset with herself but her team make not see it that way.

For Mary-Frances Monroe’s team building exercise, please read How To Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls


Amanda Cromwell – Soccer

Amanda Cromwell - Soccer

Amanda Cromwell

Head Soccer Coach Women’s Soccer

UCLA

Amanda Cromwell - Soccer

Amanda Cromwell is the head coach of UCLA’s women’s soccer where she led her team after taking the reins for just eight months to the program’s first-ever NCAA Championship. Previously, she was head coach for 14 years at the University of Central Florida. She was also head coach at University of Maryland-Baltimore County from 1996-97 and an assistant coach at the University of Virginia.

Cromwell attended the University of Virginia and was the captain of the 1991 Cavaliers team that advanced to the Final Four. She was a two-time All-America selection, a finalist for the 1991 Hermann Trophy and a four-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference honoree.

In addition to coaching, she served as a member of the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Rules Committee and U.S. Soccer Board of Directors, and was a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She is also a member of the coaching staff that the State Department sends as an envoy to other countries to empower girls and women through soccer.

 

I would say to empower young girls they need to let them know it’s OK to be the best and to strive to be the best.  I think sometimes young girls don’t want to stand out from the crowd and the coaches need to give them the confidence to do so.

p.s. To learn more about How To Coach Girls, check out Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It’s available for purchase here.

How To Coach Girls Alison Foley Mia Wenjen coaching book for girls


Ainslee Lamb – Field Hockey

Ainslee Lamb

Natick Middle School Coach

National Team Coach for USA Women’s Field Hockey

Field Hockey

Ainslee Lamb was head coach of the Yale University field hockey team from 1999 to 2003. In 2005, she became head coach of Boston College, where she coached for 10 years. Under her lead, the Eagles recorded a winning record and have received many accolades. At the end of the 2014–15 season, Lamb resigned her position as head coach. She is currently coaching Natick Middle School girls field hockey as well as coaching various national teams for the USA Field Hockey program including U17, U19 and U21. 

A 1994 graduate of the University of Toronto, Lamb was a three-year field hockey letter winner, helped lead the team to a national championship in 1988 and earned All-Canadian honors three times. 

Prior to college, Lamb was a member of both the 1990 World Cup team and Canadian National team from 1987-92, where she competed in the Junior World Cup, the Olympic qualifying tournament and two Four Nation Tournaments.

What She Gains Coaching Youth Girls

Amazingly enough, my proudest accomplishment is coaching middle school girls U14 field hockey. That’s been incredibly rewarding for me, but I do a feel an increased responsibility coaching those young women versus the national team level. When I reflect on the last two years, I think about those coaching opportunities with Natick middle school girls who have touched field hockey for the very first time. Relative to twenty years of collegiate coaching, I think that the culmination of my coaching experience came to the forefront with this young age group.

Young girls playing sport can teach us so much. The best example is “will to prepare” and “desire to win” are key intangibles that I want to instill in young athletes but at the same time, they teach us true perspective. It’s a real tribute to them that they have the ability to be very focused with their sport but also can also compartmentalize – certainly much better than elite coaches can. That’s what I’ve learned from them.

Why Coaches Should Ask, “What Are You Doing Well?”

One of the first questions that I ask all the teams and individual athletes I work with are: “What are we doing well?” I don’t know if I ever asked the athletes that I worked with at Yale or Boston College this question. The emphasis was on what do we need to work on, what do we have to fix, why are we not winning the game right now. More the doubting questions versus instilling these athletes focus on what they are doing well. Feeding them with what they are doing well ironically takes care of the things that are not happening on the field because they go back with such confidence on what they are doing well and they focus on those strengths instead of things that not allowing them to win the game.

I love that now. It’s the first question that I ask. My rule with my daughter is that she has to tell me three things she does well before I will have a conversation about things that we can do better. I think it’s really important that they feel confident about what they are doing, but girls need to learn to say things that they do well. Ironically, we sometimes are so critical and always expecting more of ourselves that even in individual meetings with the Boston College athletes and you ask the girls what are your strengths. They would answer, “I can’t really think of one.” And yet these young women are some of the best players in the country. I really like to instill in young women don’t be afraid to say something you are good at. The getting better and improvement conversations are then easier to have.

For more of Ainslee Lamb’s advice on coaching her daughter, advice to first time coaches, and retaining girls in sports, please read How to Coach Girls coming out March of 2018.