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.

 

 

 

“Does New Tech Mean More Comfort?”

Check out this new video discussing the science behind sports bras. We are doing this for girls ages 8 to 17 years old. Please check out Dragonwing girlgear. Girls can be in every shape and size from AA to DDD and more. We are working to make sure their bras fit well so they can focus on the skill building fun of sports and not worry about their changing bodies, discomfort from bad fit, or bras malfunctioning. 

New Year, New Gear for Athletic Girls

 

Relax we've got your new athletic gear for girls

 

In this month of new beginnings, we’re delighted to introduce some fabulous new products for sports girls. Now’s the time to discover the Dragonwing Difference of perfect fit, soft & snug stretch, high tech wicking fabric, and I-don’t-even-know-it’s-there comfort, all designed just for girls.

TAP photos for more info and to shop.

Game On Headbandsoft, stretchy, non-slip (thanks to double strips of silicone on the inside) to keep hair out of your face, so you can focus on your game. In 5 great colors.

GameOne Sports Headbands for Girls

 

Keyhole Sports Bra — now in Chartreuse with Azure Blue trim! Super comfortable, soft and snug, double thickness for coverage, moisture-wicking and antimicrobial — what more could a girl want?!

Keyhole sports bra for girls, now in chartreuse green with azure blue trim

 

Winter Bundle: girls leggings plus 2 sports bras for $100 (savings of more than $15). Stay warm, dry, and comfortable!

Leggings for girls plus 2 sports bras for $100

 

“The Only Sports Bra My Daughter Will Wear”

 

We love customer feedback of all kinds — it helps us make the best fitting, best performing girls athletic wear possible. And we especially love to hear that girls love the comfort, performance, and fit of their Dragonwing girlgear.

Vicki wrote to say that the Half Tee Sports Top is “the only sports bra my daughter will wear. She loves that it is soft and lower, so she can wear it to all her games knowing that she is covered!!”

Super soft and comfortable, the Half-Tee is perfect under everyday school clothes and sports jerseys, especially ones with lower cut or scooped arm holes, like basketball, lacrosse, or track. We also hear that lots of girls wear these sports bras under their pajama tops — they’re THAT comfortable!

Customer review: "only girls sports bra my daughter will wear" Click for teen sports bras, training bras

Girls Leggings & Bras Gift Bundle

 

We’ve got the perfect gift for the athletic girl on your gift list: a three-piece bundle of our best-selling athletic wear for girls — and a great deal for you!

Save up to $19 on leggings for girls plus two sports bras for teen, tween girls

 

The perfect cold weather bundle for your sports girl: a pair of our Chill Weight Leggings and two (2) of your favorite just-for-girls sports bras — all for $100 (a savings of up to $19)!

Our CHILL WEIGHT LEGGINGS FOR GIRLS are the perfect fit for cool days and evenings. Practical in design – soft, snug, and designed just for girls — these workout leggings can be worn alone or as a base layer. Teen, tween, and young girls love how these leggings fit and feel. Available in black or black with azure blue.

DRAGONWING GIRLS SPORTS BRAS  [The Racer, Mesh Racer, Keyhole, Half-Tee Sports Top, or new School to Sport Bra]  provide comfort, style, and just the right amount of coverage and support.

The most common comment from girls about their Dragonwing sports bra? “It was so comfortable I didn’t even know I had it on!”

 

Black Friday Deal on Girls’ Sports Bras

We’ve got a terrific Black Friday deal on our best-selling sports bras for girls — and you don’t have to wait until Friday to enjoy it! Wouldn’t you rather spend the time enjoying your family — and delicious Thanksgiving left-overs?!

Buy 2 Dragonwing bras for girls, get 1 more free with promo code 3BRAS. Shop here

From now through Sunday, November 29, buy any 2 of our bras — The Racer, Keyhole, School to Sport, Half-Tee, or Mesh Racer — and get a third bra* absolutely FREE!

Promo Code = 3BRAS

As always, shipping is free. We’re committed to girls getting the perfect fit, so take a moment to measure and check the size chart. We know girls of all ages come is all sizes and shapes, so our sizes are based on measurements, not on age.

 

* Put any three bras into your shopping cart and apply promo code 3BRAS to purchase and receive the lowest-priced bra absolutely free. Offer good through 11/29/15 only.

Teen Review of Racer Sports Bra

We’re thrilled with the recent review by Mom Trends of our Racer Sports Bra for Girls, Chill Weight long sleeve top and spandex leggings for girls. Logan, the soccer-playing, 8th grader intern who wrote the review, captured the essence and mission of Dragonwing.

Dragonwing girlgear is a a tween and teen girls athletic wear brand that’s embarking on a mission to change how girls play sports.

Here’s the deal–Dragonwing girlgear wants girls to be able to concentrate on their sports without worrying about adjusting their sports bra or tugging down their shorts.

Since Logan’s review covers three of our products, I’ll include each one in a separate blog post. First up, our Racer girls sports bra.

Close-up of dragonfly on back of Racer sports bra: soft, snug & oh-so-stretchy

Here’s what Logan wrote about our best-selling sports bra:

I love the material the Racer sports bra was made of. It’s soft, snug, and oh-­so-­stretchy. The dragonfly design on the back is really cute, and the long length combined with the wide band means that it stays in place without digging into your skin.

I normally don’t wear a sports bra anytime I don’t have to, but I want to wear this everywhere.

The clothes are made just for girls’ bodies, and they’re all age ­appropriate. By that I mean, none of the bras are padded or lacy, and everything is snug, but not tight. All the clothes have flat seams and tags, so there’s no rubbing or discomfort.

Stay tuned. Our super soft and comfortable Chill Weight leggings for girls are next!

Donate a Sports Bra & Help Keep a Girl in the Game

Donate Girl's Sports Bra & Help Girl Stay in the Game

 

A sports bra can mean the difference between a girl sitting on the sidelines and being able to play. Without the proper coverage, fit, and support of a sports bra, girls are often too self-conscious or uncomfortable being physically active, so they miss out on the many life- and skill-building benefits – and fun – that sports and athletic activity convey. As a parent, I know that a great sports bra can help give my daughter the opportunity to play her best.

This is especially true for girls in the developing world. That’s why we’ve partnered with our good friends at Goals for Girls to bring sports bras to teen girls in India. Goals for Girls connects girls from different countries and backgrounds with their peers around the world to address social and health challenges through cultural exchange, service, and soccer. Earlier this year, I saw the power of these exchanges when the U15 Women’s National Soccer Team from Jordan visited North Carolina.

“Sports bras are our most-needed item,” says Cindy Parlow Cone, soccer superstar, coach, and Dragonwing spokesperson. As part of Goals for Girls, she’s leading a team of US teen girl soccer players to India in January for a ten-day cultural exchange, including lots of soccer playing.

We’re hoping to send Cindy and the US Goals for Girls delegation to India with a suitcase full of sports bras, generously donated by the Dragonwing girlgear community.

To help, please donate a clean, gently-used sports bra (any size, brand, or color) to:

Goals for Girls/Dragonwing
510 Meadowmont Village Circle, #188
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

Include your name and email address in the package with the donated bra(s). As a token of our thanks, we’ll send you a promo code good for $5 off your next Dragonwing purchase.

Thank you for helping empower girls in sports & in life!

 

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"