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November 03, 2000|VALERIE GUTIERREZ

Title: "Games Girls Play: Understanding and Guiding Young Female Athletes"

Author: Caroline Silby, with Shelley Smith

Price: $24.95

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Female athletes have their own set of unique challenges. This practical book gives parents and coaches advice for responding to these needs.

It is written by Caroline Silby, a sports psychologist and former figure skater, with ESPN reporter Shelley Smith. It helps parents encourage their daughters to participate in sports while ensuring their experiences as athletes are positive.

"Sports holds the potential to teach valuable life lessons and help shape a young girl into a confident, self-approving . . . balanced woman," Silby writes.

"Yet sports also holds the potential to teach destructive lessons--ones about rule breaking, favoritism, winning at all costs . . . drugs, thinness as fitness and other opinions valued more than her own."

She draws from case studies and real-life examples to help parents deal with the obstacles that female athletes face and offers solutions for handling everything from self-esteem issues to dealing with coaches.

Each chapter has strategies, checklists, summaries and questions like:

How can I help her balance school and sports?.

Can you accept that your daughter will disappoint you?

Can you settle for personal improvement rather than winning?

Are you committed to the champion or the child?

Can you react to her performances in a way that teaches her appropriate coping skills?

The book also deals with tougher subjects such as eating disorders, sexual harassment and steroid use.

Parents will find valuable advice on how to guide a young woman through the empowering lessons sports can bring--lessons that will hopefully enrich the rest of her life.

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