Protein Bars + Youth Athletes

granola bar - nutritionProtein bars are a staple at youth sports games and tournaments. Individually packaged and promising quick energy, they’re often chocked full of ingredients that may or may not provide the best nutrition. 

Dragonwing Brand Ambassador Abby G. takes a look at these game-day go-to snacks and shares her discoveries. 

Pre-Game/Workout

Athletes need a snack that is 75% carbs and 25% protein to provide energy, and repair and build muscle during activity.  

Check the ingredient list and nutrition label of your favorite snack bar to know if it has the right balance of protein, fats, and sugar. Yes, sugar; it has a bad reputation if it is refined sugar, but not when it comes from natural sources and whole foods such as low-fat milk and dried fruit. The fiber in the fruit causes the sugar to metabolize slower, leaving your athlete feeling fuller and with more energy.  Sugar from natural sources does not cause inflammation, an added, important benefit.

Erin Palinski-Wade, a registered dietitian, recommends the “rule of 5.” Having at least 5 grams of protein, fiber, and unsaturated fat results in a filling pre-game snack choice.

Post-Game/Workout

Post-workout, these nutrients repair muscles, replenish the body’s glycogen stores, and prevent muscle soreness. Athletes need to stay hydrated and consume similar healthy food with protein and carbs. Protein bars are a good fit since appetites may be temporarily dulled from a strenuous workout, or other options may be too heavy.

Look for choices composed of whole foods. Micro-nutrients and essential fiber provide the body with the nutrients needed to repair muscles and replenish the body’s glycogen stores. It also helps prevent muscle soreness. 

Understand What You’re Buying

Often the ingredients lists for bars are long and unrecognizable. After being refined and processed, these ingredients lose many of the nutrients essential to muscle repair. 

Know the difference between granola bars and protein bars. While granola, purchased or homemade, can be a healthy snack, it may not provide what your young athlete needs during their sports season and workouts.

Want to know more? Check out these resources for making smart nutrition choices for your daughter’s next workout.

Summary

  1. Forego bars loaded with refined sugar and apply Palinski-Wade’s Rule of 5. 
  2. Read labels and choose whole foods over processed or refined ingredients.
  3. Plan for healthy pre-workout snacks and recovery foods that provide steady energy and recovery nutrients.

Let us know what bars you’ve found best for pre and post-game, practices, and workouts.

Dragonwing IconSpecial Thanks to Abby G. for her research and for compiling great resources we can all use.

Dragonwing Chill Weight: sports leggings, capris, fitted tops for girls

 

 

Click to add Chill Weight Leggings to your cold weather season shopping cart.

Corie Barry: From Rugby Field to CEO

There’s no arguing the fitness benefits for girls playing sports — but does it really increase their likelihood of success later in life? Athletics teach values that go far beyond the court or field: cooperation, determination, discipline, and how to succeed under pressure. 

As more women enter the C-Suite, it’s notable how many laid the foundation for their success playing competitive sports early in life.

Corie Barry spent much of her career with Best Buy, having served as Chief Financial Officer before being named CEO. Before that, she played college rugby and considered a career in dance. For her, an impressive title and resume must include her husband and two kids, youth baseball games, gymnastics with her daughter, and active time spent together with her family. 

“My point of view is there is no perfect balance,” says Barry. “All you can do is figure out what works for you. I laugh because I’m always the mom who shows up at the baseball game in my heels, and that’s OK.” 

Read Corie Barry Becomes Fifth CEO in Best Buy History

Whether it’s business or sports, Barry has advice we can all use. “I’ve always felt it’s important to demand a return on your investment. If you’re going to put your time in, where you put it in and the return you get is incredibly important because there are only so many hours in a day.”

Corie’s is an inspiring success story for athletic girls in every sport.

Dragonwing Chill Weight: sports leggings, capris, fitted tops for girlsRead “Boardrooms And Ballfields: Best Buy CFO Corie Barry Talks Motherhood” 

 

Click to shop new Chill Weight Leggings and Support Tops

This one thing could keep your tween girl in sports

Thanks to Chris Deacon for her excellent journalism in the Sept 6 issue of Today’s Parent. Her article follows!

Studies show that girls start quitting sports in the tween years—this solution might surprise you.

Growing up, Juanita Lee ran track and rowed, but her sport of choice was tennis. She played the game from age six until age 14 when— seemingly overnight— her breasts grew from a 32A to 34DD.

The change immediately set her apart from her more petite, flat-chested opponents and made the teenager extremely self-conscious. She hated the sensation of her breasts moving when she ran on the court and how exposed she felt in her scoop-neck tennis dress whose padded cups only accentuated her size. And because breasts move independently of the body, (both up and down and side to side,) Lee also started experiencing breast pain, an issue she was too embarrassed to discuss with her parents. Not long after, Juanita used a sports injury as an excuse to quit tennis altogether and turned her attention to rowing, where breast movement wasn’t an issue, and running, a sport that—while still painful—meant she could wear baggy t-shirts for coverage.

Lee isn’t the only girl whose breast development has affected their participation in sports. In a 2016 survey of more than 2,000 British girls aged 11 to 18, nearly three-quarters said their breasts got in the way of enjoying sports. According to the study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, when girls hit puberty they start pulling out of athletics and skipping gym class to avoid the pain and embarrassment of breasts that are either too big, too small or —the chief complaint—too bouncy.

It turns out there could be an easy fix—a sports bra. While a given for professional female athletes, this undergarment is often omitted from the equipment list of girls’ sports teams. And while jockstraps are offered to boys for protection and to prevent discomfort caused by excessive movement during exercise, sports bras that serve the same purpose for girls have not been a part of the cultural conversation. In fact, only 10 percent of girls surveyed in the British study had worn one.

So how can a parent navigate the tricky terrain of breast development and sports with their tween? Here are five tips:

Start the conversation early: Your daughter may not need the support of a sports bra yet, but it’s worth tackling the topic early on, before she gets embarrassed about it. If she’s not ready for the discussion in the moment, MaryAnne Gucciardi—whose company, Dragonwing girlgear specializes in performance base-layers such as sports bras and support tops for girls aged 8 to 17, encourages parents to stick with it. “It’s a hard conversation for a parent,” she says, noting that dads in particular, have a hard time with the topic, “but it’s even harder for a child. They don’t know yet what they need. They just know what they’re feeling.”

Be matter of fact: Gucciardi also suggests sticking with the facts when broaching the idea of a sports bra. “You could say something like, “I want you to play your best. I want you to feel comfortable, and have good support to prevent injury and stay healthy and just like boys with a jockstrap for support and to prevent injury, this is what girls wear,’” she says. Explain to you daughter the difference between your average tween bra (which often looks like a sports bra) and the real thing. Most tween bras are made with thin cotton and flimsy straps. A good sports bra, by contrast, has smooth but stretchy fabric that moves as the athlete moves, with straps and a band that stay in place.

Shop it alone: While the odd girl might enjoy looking for a bra with her mom, most don’t, says Gucciardi, so parents should start the process. One idea, she says, is to buy a few different styles of sports bras and support tops and leave them in your daughter’s drawer—while keeping in mind she probably won’t model them for you. “She might have you hand them back and forth until she finds one that she likes,” she says, “Be patient. If you let her control the conversation, then she’ll feel in control of her body.”

Go for fit: Thirteen-year-old Melanie Paulson’s* parents have been helping her shop for sports bras since she started developing breasts in Grade 4, with little success. “I don’t find them very comfortable,” says the avid hockey player, who now shops in the women’s section. But many women’s sport bras are padded which makes breasts look bigger—the last thing most tweens and teens want. And Gucciardi cautions that an improper fit—caused by a bra that’s too big— can lead to back problems. “You could have a bigger bust but a small rib-cage,” she explains, suggesting that parents seek out sports bras that are specifically designed for tweens and teens, and that take this silhouette variation into account so that the fit is precise. Lululemon, Nike and Gucciardi’s brand all carry quality sports bras for this age group. Look for a fit that is snug but not tight with straps that don’t droop or slip. And if you’re buying online, it’s worth taking the time to measure your daughter and refer to the size chart rather than order the size that corresponds to her age. Parents should measure just under the rib cage to get the right fit as opposed to across the chest, and, when the bra is on, be able to fit not more than one finger under the band. The band should be as wide as possible while still being comfortable for your child.

Comfort is key: Gucciardi recommends quality sports bras that use high performance, moisture wicking fabric (that moves the sweat away from the skin) with mesh for coolness and breath-ability. “Girls get super embarrassed when they think they sweat and smell and that people notice it,” she says. Also look for thin, removable pads for coverage and softness. “Nipples showing is another source of embarrassment,” she says. Nipple chafing— especially common with runners— is also an issue. Finally, choose a sports bra that’s seamless and tag-free to prevent irritation.

Now that you’ve got a bra for your daughter, can you really expect it to be the difference between giving up sports and staying in the game? For Juanita Lee, now 27, the answer is—absolutely. “I was kind of a shy kid and I never felt comfortable saying, ”oh, my boobs hurt.” she says. In grade 10, Lee got her first sports bra at the suggestion of her female rugby coach, and she played rugby until the end of high school.

*Name has been changed.

Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

For the Dragonwing team, this video makes us emotional – especially when Jock Semple tries to pull her out. Kathrine’s quote “all of a sudden this was very important … nobody believes I can do this.. and if I don’t finish, people will think all women can’t.” she finished in 4 hrs and 20 min. KV Switzer (and whoever wears #261 -how lucky are you!)

You can watch the video here.

Kathrine Switzer: First Woman to Enter the Boston Marathon

“Dear Dragonwing Girl…” Wise Words From A Bad Cookie


Dear Dragonwing Girl,

I would like to start by saying you are amazing. No matter who you are, where you are, or what you have done to get to this point right now, you’re amazing. You have unlimited untapped potential and only the sky is the limit. I’m sure you’ve heard this before from loving grandparents whilst they grab your cheeks and squeeze you in a constricting hug, but right now- at this moment- I want you to read carefully. You are all the attributes I listed before and more; you are beautiful, strong, and smart and you can do everything you want to and more.

Despite you and I knowing these things to be true, some will doubt you. Some will doubt you without even knowing you, and some will doubt you right after seeing your name on a resume. These some will be men, but they will also be women. Most will do this unconsciously, and I implore you to not be angry at them for the ignorance and bias they hold. I implore you to fight the fight of being a career-driven girl in a world run by men.

Though it is important to not hold anger for the world being the way it is, do not conform to the need to be “pleasant” or “calm” or “collected.” You can speak out when you see small forms of misogyny in your school or workplace. Whether it be a man dominating the discussion, or a guy in your group making snide comments, you can step up. You can make your voice be heard because you won’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because you can.

So, stay strong because it can be hard sometimes. You might be called selfish or bossy or any other number of terms people like to use for women who don’t conform to their stereotypes, but if you struggle, if you stand your ground, if you fight for what you want, then we will be one step closer to gender equality.

Sincerely,

Your friend at Dragonwing girlgear, Abby

Concussions important issue for girl athletes-updated info here

There have been many articles and efforts to improve safety on the soccer field for women and girls.  As an update to our posts of six years ago, I provide new information on prevention and training alternatives from Cindy Parlow Cone and Excelle.com

Our original articles are here:

Don’t be fooled by common misconceptions about concussions.

A great article on concussions from Taylor Twellman.

Recovering from a Climbing Concussion

and new information can be found here:

Pro players speak out about the ‘absurdity’ of the concussion protocol in women’s soccer

Check out these excellent video on the what Cindy Parlow Cone’s experience learning to head the ball at 18 -and still being a World Cup Champ and Olympian!

http://bit.ly/2t0FV3P

http://bit.ly/2u5o9MP

 

Happy Birthday Cindy Parlow Cone

Happy birthday to Cindy Parlow Cone, three-time NCAA Women’s Soccer Champion and founding member of the Women’s United Soccer Association, former head coach for Portland Thorns FC and in her first year as coach in her first year as head coach of the Portland Thorns, led the Thorns to the NWSL Championship. Parlow was a member of the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic, and 1999 and 2003 Women’s World Cup, teams. Parlow Cone played professionally for the Atlanta Beat for three years and was the Coaching Director of 13-18 year-old girls’ programs at the Triangle United soccer league.  Cindy is a co-founder of Goals for Girls.  Birthday –May 8th.

Dynamic Stretching advice from Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano and Dragonwing

Spring sports tryouts are underway -and warming up safely is key to playing well and minimizing the risk of injury. In this blog, we asked Dr. Lindsay Di Stefano to provide readers with evidence-based, practical information to help encourage safe and healthy participation in sports for all athletes, but with a special focus for pre-adolescent and adolescent girls.

First Step to Any Activity: A Proper Warm-up

In the past, you may have witnessed this scene –fifteen girls put their bags down and jog around the soccer field together. They stop at midfield and align themselves in a circle with one teammate in the center. This “captain” leads her team through a series of static stretches by counting off 30 seconds per stretch. After the team has completed a few stretches, they walk off the field to their waiting coach and begin practice. Have you seen this scenario before?
I surely have! Here is an example of another common scenario frequently played out on youth sport fields: The team arrives, they start talking to one another, catching up on the day’s events, and may start juggling or passing to one another before the actual practice begins. Or a third scenario occurs when an athlete walks out of their front door and starts running three miles. Unfortunately, the athletes in all three scenarios are not helping themselves be as prepared as possible for any training, practice, or game. Not only are these athletes not putting their bodies in the best condition for performance, but they may also be increasing their risk of injury.
A better solution to these examples above is to gradually prepare your body for the upcoming activity. Generally, the first thing to do is to start increasing your heart rate, which will begin to “warm-up” your muscles. There are many ways to accomplish this goal. You can walk at progressively faster speeds, leading to a jog, possibly incorporate some quicker runs, or you can ride a bike with low resistance, or even play a small game that involves low to moderate effort. The goal is to just get your body moving!
After you are feeling “warm” and perhaps even sweating a little bit, you can start performing some specific exercises for various muscles. These exercises will help the muscles get used to working (producing force) while they are moving. Here is where the big difference lies between traditional “static stretching” and a “dynamic warm-up”. Once you have “warmed up” your body through gradual exercise, you do not want to stand in place and essentially cool it down. Static stretches that are held for a long period of time may also interfere with your muscles’ ability to work effectively. Research has shown that a dynamic warm up helps to more effectively prepare the body for athletic participation.

Instead of performing static stretches, try some of these dynamic movements. Similar to the warm up activity, you should gradually progress the speed and intensity used for these exercises. The goal is that you are ready to jump into full-speed activity when you are finished with these exercises.

Walking knee to chest
Walking knee to opposite shoulder
Walking quad stretch
Walking hamstring stretch- one foot in front, sit back onto back leg and lean forward towards front foot, front knee straight and back knee bent, toes down to the ground
Walking calf stretch- same as the walking hamstring stretch expect pull toes/foot upward
Walking lunge/hip flexor stretch- walk out into a lunge, keep body upright,
Side to side lunge/groin stretch
Walking cross over/piriformis stretch
Walking lunge with rotation
Heel walks/Toe walks
Butt kicks
Hamstring kicks
Skipping
Carioca
Lateral shuffles

So next time you see athletes start performing “static” stretches before any physical activity, suggest to them that they should try out some new moves that might help prevent injury and may improve their performance!

Black History Month: Celebrating Serena Williams!

Sharing stories about women athletes matters. Equally important, hearing stories of amazing women athletes matters. One of my favorite legends is Serena Williams. To celebrate Black History Month, the artist Simone Grace is creating a coloring book with portraits of 28 amazing black women and one of the world’s greatest athletes, Serena Williams is featured.  Simone is my friend and classmate -and when I asked her if we could share this page with our community of athletic girls and their parents, she generously and ecstatically agreed. You can get a free printable coloring page here!

Check out all the illustrations of visionary black women who are luminaries in politics, arts, activism, business and sports. Coloring is a fun, empowering and relaxing activity for all the strong girls and women in your life and makes a great gift! You learn more about Simone Grace and how to get the entire printable coloring book at the GoFundMe page here.

xoxo
MaryAnne
Founder of Dragonwing girlgear

mosaic

 

The “why” of Dragonwing girlgear.

kickstart_bannerPeople often ask me why I am so passionate about sports and girls and I have a simple, important reason – we need this generation of girls, now more than ever, to reach their potential.  Sports participation at any level is one path to actualizing potential –it is established and proven – we don’t need to create a new program or study its benefits.  But social expectations and social media are getting in the way of girls.  When I realized “the underwear experience” could have an impact, I had an aha moment that I could do something about it.

Let’s take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid.  On one level of the pyramid is community or village – we all know and accept that it takes a village to grow a strong confident girl.  We are happier with friends, family, a team, a tribe.  Belonging is important.   Connections give life meaning (Brene Brown).  Sports provide a natural community.

The next level of the pyramid is self-esteem.  Sports build self-esteem in so many ways, such as setting and achieving goals, graciously winning, building resilience, pushing your comfort zone for what you think you can do and then exceeding it – just to name a few. For more on this, check out this TedEx talk by Alisa Herr.

Unfortunately, feelings about breast development are a top reason girls drop out of sports.  According to a recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health, “three quarters of school-aged girls report breast-related concerns regarding exercise and sports.”   75%!!!  That’s just not acceptable.  Starting and normalizing conversation about body changes can improve this.  Sports programs frequently recommend protective gear for boys, like cups, or compression shorts, but there is no comparable list recommended for girls. At Dragonwing girlgear, we provide girls that list and more.

Having an excellent-fitting, high-performance sports top – whether it is a bra, cami or thermal tee-shirt, that is designed especially for the athletic girl’s figure, can eliminate worries about underwear malfunction.  Embarrassment about changing bodies can alleviate concerns about body image.  At Dragonwing, we strive to free up emotional energy– so girls can focus on their game – and everything else they want to achieve… because when girls are confident, the possibilities are endless.