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.

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.

 

 

 

“The Most Comfortable Bra Ever”

 

Elise’s daughter plays soccer and volleyball and is already a big fan of our Keyhole Sports Bra. But now she has a new favorite: our seamless Racer Sports Bra for girls. 

“The Racer bra was a huge hit – she said it is the most comfortable bra ever.”

"The most comfortable bra ever" customer review of Racer Sports Bra for girls, teens. Click for more.

Discover the Dragonwing Difference yourself & check out The Racer:

– Super fine yarn and double-layered coverage ensures support, comfort, and coverage.
– Wicking fabric keeps moisture away so you stay cool and confident.
– Shoulder straps provide support and don’t droop.
– Soft, snug bottom band won’t ride up no matter how far you reach, stretch, throw, or run.
– Tag free and seamless so there is no chafing
– Made in the USA.

Two Sports Bras isn’t Enough for Athletic Girl

 

Wendy’s teen daughter got her first Racer Sports Bra at the start of the summer — two actually – one each in black/teal and white lime! She loves them and has “been begging for some more!”

After she ordered four more Racers in early August, Wendy generously wrote a review on our website.

Great quality & comfort. They’re very soft and comfortable and the fit is great. Much better than anything you can find at a big box sporting goods store. Would love to see more colors!

 

We’re happy to announce that we’ll have several new colors of the Racer later this year. Be sure to join our email list, so you’ll be among the first to know when the new colors — and a few other new products — arrive.

 

Girls sports bra review: "daughter loves the Racer...soft, comfortable & the fit is great"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Back-to-School Tips for Active Girls

 

The start of the school year is filled with anticipation, excitement, great promise, and sometimes anxiety. What will my teachers and classes be like? Will I make new friends? Will my “old” friends still be my friends? And, when transitioning to a new school, will I fit in?

Girl with backpack and bike back to school

At Dragonwing girlgear, our mission is to empower girls in sports and in life. Building connections, feeling confident inside and out, and making routines and transitions as smooth as possible can help get the school year off to a great start! Here are our 5 back-to-school tips:

1. JOIN A TEAM OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, IN OR OUT OF SCHOOL. Being part of a team is a great way for girls to make friends, stay active, reduce stress, improve mental health, and develop lifelong skills – like teamwork and resilience — that are the benefits of sports participation.

2. CHOOSE CLOTHING THAT GIVES GIRLS COMFORT AND CONFIDENCE FROM THE INSIDE OUT. The start of school, particularly for girls whose bodies are changing, can be a time of hyper self-awareness. Research shows that girls are starting puberty, marked by the start of breast development, significantly earlier than 15 years ago, sometimes as young as 8 or 9 years old.

Regardless of when they first need a bra, girls want something comfortable that provides enough coverage so they don’t feel self-conscious and fits them just right, so they can move and play with confidence. Girls and parents alike want a first bra to be age-appropriate, not the padded or plunging bras of Victoria’s Secret, Target, and other retailers.

A well-fitting, comfortable sports bra, like our Keyhole and Racer sports bras, or a sports camisole with an inner layer, like our Un-Tee Sports Cami, is often the best choice.

3. MAKE THE TRANSITION FROM SCHOOL TO SPORTS EASY, QUICK, AND COMFORTABLE. The start of the school year and fall sports season means girls – and parents – need to make quick transitions from school to practice or competition.

Need to change clothes in the car or on the bus? Concerned about modesty while changing out of school clothes and into sports gear? When getting dressed in the morning, choose base layers (aka “undergarments”) — like our sports bras, camis, and light compression shorts — that are cool and comfortable under “regular” school clothes and make changing for sports quick and easy. No need to completely undress; just take off school clothes and pull on a sports jersey and shorts.

What a girl wears under her uniform can help her feel confident and play her best. Undergarments that are comfortable, fit great, and provide appropriate coverage empower girls to play the sports they love without being distracted by droopy straps, bras or shirts that ride up, or bunching shorts.

4. PLAN AHEAD FOR COOLER WEATHER. While it may be hot and humid now, the arrival of cool, fall weather always seems to surprise us. Afternoon practices and games – or the trip to and from school — can quickly turn chilly or downright cold.

A pair of leggings and a long-sleeve top under sports gear can keep a girl athlete warm, agile, and in the game. Moisture-wicking fabric is a must, so the sweat moves away from the skin and girls stay dry and warm. When shopping, consider the sport as well as the fit. Many soccer girls love our Capri-length Chill Weight Leggings because they don’t interfere with shin guards.

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS A GIRL NEEDS ON HER FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL WON’T FIT INTO HER BACKPACK OR GYM BAG. She carries these treasures inside herself: a spirit of adventure and curiosity, a desire to learn and tackle new challenges, and a sense of confidence in herself.

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A slightly revised version of this post originally appeared on the Sports Mom Survival Guide, a great resource for parents of young athletes with tips, ideas, and recipes. 

 

Girl’s Keyhole Bra = Comfort, Confidence

review Dragonwing sports bra: fashionable comfort for young girlWe know that girls of all ages come in all shapes and sizes. And we know that girls love to play, whether on the playground or on a competitive playing field. Sadly and far too often, girls drop out of sports and start becoming less active when their bodies start to develop.

In a recent review of our Keyhole Sports Bra, blogger Chloe M. recounted her young daughter’s experience:

My little 8-year-old loves her sports… however, her weight, size, and now developing body was making it hard for her to be comfortable when she played.
The Keyhole Sports Bra changed everything and provided her with fashionable comfort for everyday use.

 

The first day she wore the new bra she said she felt like she was years younger again. No discomfort.

 

Her friends in the locker room even commented on how cute it looked and asked where to get one.

 

We LOVE hearing how Dragonwing girlgear boosts girls’ confidence, empowering them to be the strong, active, fun-loving kids they are! Read Chloe’s full review on her blog, Reviews by Clo.

Tell us how Dragonwing has made a difference for YOU and we may feature you in an upcoming blog post.