"Go Girl"

What are your dreams for your daughter? I know mine. I have three daughters, and I want each of them to have the deep sense of security and self-confidence that comes from being loved and nurtured right from the start. I want my daughters to follow their dreams, have happy relationships, and fulfill their greatest potential.

But how do I instill the sense of self in my daughters that will allow them to do that? I know that, in addition to the love and nurturing I give them, I need to expose them to all the positive things that life has to offer. When parents think of what is fun, challenging, and educational for girls, we tend to focus on activities like art, dance, or music. But what about sports?

More and more studies are showing that one of the most effective ways to raise joyful, healthy, and successful daughters is to encourage them to be physically active from a young age. It is essential to get them to participate in sports when they're old enough, and especially important to keep them involved throughout their teen years.

Even though I work in sports, I still found I needed help as a "sports parent." I was unsure of the answers to questions like, When should I buy my oldest daughter her first bike? How early should I start my daughters in swimming lessons, or put them on a soccer team? I looked for a resource that would help me find the right sports programs and information for my daughters. When I found that no such resource was available, I decided to create one myself by writing this book. I talked to the top experts in their fields, both to be able to answer countless questions for myself and also to pass on this information to other parents like you. Throughout the book, you will find quotes and advice from these experts that were gathered from interviews and research into their work.

You may already be eager to get your daughters involved in sports, or your children may be asking for more sports activities. Perhaps you played sports as a child and are active now, or maybe you weren't athletic as a child and don't love exercise now. Wherever you are on that spectrum, you'll want your daughters to enjoy the lifelong benefits that sports and physical activity offer: fun, fitness, and healthy competition, to be sure, but also personal development, identity and values.

As a sports journalist, I've seen the benefits of sports for girls up close and personal. One of the most exciting things I have discovered in writing this book is the broad scope of these benefits. Sports benefit our daughters in so many ways- physically and academically as well as emotionally and socially. These are benefits that researchers have discovered after studying some of the millions of girls and young women who have played sports thanks to legislation passed in 1972 that forced public schools to give girls the same access to sports programs that boys had traditionally enjoyed. This legislation is known as Title IX of the Educational Assistance Act, "Title IX" for short, and is heralded as a watershed event in girl's and women's sports.

When I became aware of the huge advantages that sports and physical activity could offer my daughters, I became doubly interested in making sure they get the opportunities to participate in athletics. One of the most effective ways to do this is to give them the skills early on to succeed in sports- what one expert I spoke to calls the "alphabet or movement." Of course, it's important not only to teach our daughters such skills, but also to create an environment in which our daughters' success in sports is as valued as our sons'.

Some challenges come with participation in sports. That's why in these pages you'll find important information about teaching sportsmanship, preventing and treating injuries, practicing good sports nutrition, and working with coaches. I have also provided information on fitness, an important topic distinct from sports participation, and a section on individual sports so that you can find the right activities to offer your daughter.

There's so much we need to know! But by using the sound advice I got from top experts, you can be assured that you're doing your very best to help your daughters feel healthy, happy, and ready to take on the world!