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 Boston Globe

Alison Foley Boston Globe

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



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 and follow him on Twitter @neilswidey.

We’re Keynote Speakers for 3rd Annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Symposium

Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)


Alison and I are thrilled to be presenting the keynote address for the 3rd Annual Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Symposium!

Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)

Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)

We will also be leading a breakout session on Gender Equity – Empowering Women and Girls

Friday, May 10, 2019

MIAA/MSAA Office, 33 Forge Parkway, Franklin MA

Registration: 8:30-8:45am

Opening Session: 8:45-9:00am

Concurrent Sessions 9:00am-12:00pm

Lunch: 12:00pm

Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA)

How To Coach Girls Event at Regis College rescheduled for Feb 26!

Regis College Map

Our event has been rescheduled for Tuesday, February 26 from 6:00-7:15 pm in the Upper Student Center (note new location)

(How to Coach Girls event scheduled for Tuesday, 2/12 at Regis College has been postponed due to the impending snowstorm.)

We will be at Regis College for National Girls and Women in Sports Week!

How To Coach Girls for National Girls & Women in Sports Week 2019

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


Upper Student Center: Campus Map

235 Wellesley St.

Weston, MA 02493

This event is free and open to the public.

Regis College Map

Introducing Foley Athletic Advising

Foley Athletic Advising Alison Foley

Alison Foley left Boston College as Head Coach of the Women’s Soccer Team at the end of 2018. She launched her own company, Foley Athletic Advising:

At Foley Athletic Advising, we offer comprehensive on-field training, skill evaluation, and recruiting advising. On the field, we work with student athletes to help them achieve their full athletic potential.  Off the field, we work with student-athletes and their parents to create a stress-free roadmap to take the confusion out of the recruiting process and help get into their dream schools.

Foley Athletic Advising offers these services:

·      Individual Athletic Advising

·      Individual & Small Group Soccer Training

·      Assessment

·      Soccer Boot Camp for Teams

·     New England Top 100 College Showcase


Thank you to Sean Kenny, a US National Soccer Team Scout, for his kind words about Alison Foley of Foley Athletic Advising and co-author of HOW TO COACH GIRLS.


Where: Boston, MA

When: June 8th and June 9th, 2019

Time: 9am – 6pm

The New England Top 100 College Showcase is an invitation-only event for girls who want to play soccer at the next level. It is an excellent way for players to get exposure without having to endure the expense and travel of other showcase events as we will bring college coaches to Boston.

Our showcase has commitments from top college women’s soccer coaches around the country in all divisions including UCLA, Georgetown University, Cornell University, Barry University, University of Bridgeport, Iona College, Fairfield University, Providence College, Southern Connecticut State University, Brown University, Albany University, Princeton University, and more, as well as scouts for the U.S. Women’s National Team. We will be updating our list of colleges weekly.

This is an opportunity for up to 100 female soccer players to participate by being nominated by their club and high school coaches.

Here is the form for High School and Club coaches to nominate players.

Players who are not nominated can attend Assessment sessions to earn a place at the showcase.

Alison Foley Contributes Quote to HerLife Magazine

Alison Foley Contributes Quote to HerLife Magazine

Thank you to Catie Watson for letting Alison Foley contribute to your article on Qualities to Look For in a Children’s Sports Coach” for HERLIFE magazine. Here’s my quote:

I believe that  Coaches represent one of the most powerful positions in our kids’ lives.  Over time with good training, they can improve athletic skill and physical development which is very important.   However, instantaneously with words, they can impact players minds.  They can build up confidence or break it down.  They can elevate self-worth or leave kids to question themselves.  They can empower young athletes to believe in their dreams or strip these aspirations away.   Very few athletes will play in college or go on to a professional level.   Developing the physical skill set should be a secondary priority when choosing a coach.   Finding a coach that will encourage, speak with motivating words and be kind when needing to be critical is the number one criteria in coach selection for young athletes.

Alison Foley Contributes Quote to HerLife Magazine

Win HOW TO COACH GIRLS book and swag!

Win How To Coach Girls book and swag

We are giving away How to Coach Girls book and swag pack!

To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom.

Win How To Coach Girls book and swag

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How to Coach Girls is available at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Audrey Press.

If anyone wishes to buy books for their town team or club team, Audrey Press offers volume discounts.

Recent reviews include:

Frank J. Kelly:

Great little book – just nails it in terms of content – no fluff. If you are a coach of Girls you should read this and if you are a male coach of girls read this twice. It teaches quickly what it took me several seasons to learn on my coaching journey – first as parent, then team parent, then assistant coach and now coach of a Girls U12 recreation soccer team.

Key lessons
– Girls will compete after they bond – and so you need to give them opportunities to bond e.g. early in practice or make a water break take a little longer
– Break up any cliques that form
– Keep it fun
– Lots of positive reinforcement but make it genuine
– You have to build trust and safety – they won’t try or take risks if the feeling is that failure means punishment. You need to create “emotional safety”.

Lots of fun ideas e.g.
– Coaches’ forfeit
– Cupcakes for birthdays
– The “How to be a better teammate” game.

This is a quick read but should be handed out to every Girls’ team coach Day 1.

More reviews from Amazon:

I’m pretty sure I’m holding the new bible for coaching girls’ sports. I love this book because it’s as if the authors are inside the heads of the girls, revealing insights as to what will be most supportive for them as athletes and as human beings. I wish I could’ve had an extra copy or two of this resource on hand over the past several years as I watched my daughters grapple with issues on the soccer field. Would’ve saved a lot of heartache on the sidelines. I particularly liked the frameworks for how best to manage team dynamics, increase internal motivation, and tips for getting back on track when things become unsteady. I also loved the chapters on dealing with cliques as well as body image issues, some timely and relevant. Glad I found this book–great practical suggestions.

As a professional music teacher and mother of both a boy and a girl, I highly recommend this book. Many aspects, such as “Growth Mindset” and “Positive Reinforcement” can be applied to any sport or even how to coach kids to prepare for music competitions. My daughter has played in various levels of AYSO teams and two California Club teams, with some coaches who were great at coaching girls, and some who did not understand the difference in coaching boys and girls. This book should be required reading for all coaches, as it will help coaches to build player confidence, stronger team chemistry, and ultimately, the girls will choose to stay and develop with this team and in the sport. Bravo to Mia and Alison for this timely coaching guidebook for parents and coaches!

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