Encourage girls to play sports, expert says

Your athletic daughter says she doesn't want to play sports when she goes to high school next year. Should you encourage her to reconsider?

Most definitely, says Hannah Storm, ESPN sportscaster, mom of three daughters and co-author of "Go Girl! Raising Healthy, Confident and Successful Girls Through Sports" (Sourcebooks, $15).

"Participation in sports is absolutely as critical as anything else your daughter can do," she says. "Especially during adolescence."

Storm offers these tips to help persuade your daughter:

Think beyond team sports. "Do cheer. Do yoga. Do golf. Do track. There's such a wide variety of physical activity you can do."

Remove the performance pressure. "Be on second string. Be on JV. ... Just pick a sport and play it. Have fun and be with your friends."

Cheer her on. "It's really, really critical that you go to games. Put it on your schedule as if it's a business meeting. There's no way you can tell your kid, 'I really want you to do this,' and then you don't even make time to watch."

Join her. If her chosen activity isn't team-based, consider forming your own team. "Sign up for a triathlon or a 5K together. You don't want to be saying, 'Eat your vegetables,' and then you never eat them."

Don't waver. "You want to keep it positive, but you've got to put your foot down. Just like you might make your child take piano or do community service, tell her, 'This might not be something you feel like doing, but I know as a parent how good this is for you.'"