Wenjen, Mia and Foley, Alison. How to Coach Girls
March 1st 2018 by Audrey Press
ARC provided by the publisher
This short but very complete volume addresses a wide variety of issues of coaching but emphasizes the need for coaches to recognize the special concerns of girls in sports. Since middle school girls are particularly vulnerable to quitting sports they love because of social pressures, this is a much needed book! The section on “The Big Picture” covers topics such as developing team chemistry, making sure that players are good teammates, and developing the whole athlete so that children are not just good at their game, but good people as well. These are all very important aspects of the cross country program with which I help, so it was good to reinforce that material, but the information about “keeping it fun” which includes CAKE was good to read as well. With 75 runners, the “fun” aspects has proven to be harder and harder to maintain, but it’s such a crucial element.
The section on solutions to specific issues is something that would have been useful to me when I was coaching my own daughter! Many coaches do this, and it’s hard to understand why methods that work with other athletes might not work with one’s own child! Cliques, confidence, captains, losing streaks, and the all important topic of body image are covered in just enough detail to inform beginning coaches of these pitfalls while offering helpful advice for seasoned coaches who might not have been able to come up with a good approach to some of them. (You have to break large teams into smaller groups, and we always agonize about it!)
After working with a seasoned coach for ten years, we have a good pre-season plan (it often feels like it’s a year round plan!), but new coaches will definitely want to make sure that they pay special attention to the codes of contact and especially the medical emergency plans. (I’ve never thought about back up contact lenses, but then it’s pretty easy to run without corrective lenses, judging from my own experiences of running without them and the number of glasses I hold onto every season!)
The book itself is a great small size to through in a coach’s backpack, although since I am used to reading middle grade literature, the print seemed awfully tiny. This is a great resource for anyone coaching girls, and Girls of the Run should definitely buy these in bulk and hand them out with their resource boxes for this program! It also makes a great gift for the coaches in your daughters’ lives– combined with some chocolate, just for the “fun” factor!