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.

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

 

Last Firsts from a Soccer Mom.

It is that time of year for parents of high school seniors when we’re enjoying the last -firsts of many club and high school events.  Last first soccer game of the year, last first day of the last semester, last club night.   Looking back at all the things I’ve learned, I’ve decided (rather than wallow),  I’d share a few of the most useful lessons.  From the importance of chocolate milk to the recruiting process.  Make sure to catch next few blogs.  I’d love to hear your stories and tips too!

Here’s to team Glow Angel -where it all started, and to the coaches, parents and friends I’ve made on the fields.

xo

MaryAnne

Intro to Laura

Hi everyone! I’m Laura and I am a new ambassador for Dragonwing girlgear. I am in middle school, and my favorite subjects are Math and Spanish. I have always loved Math ever since I was young  because I enjoy solving problems. I have taken Spanish since kindergarten and I really love the language, and I enjoy learning more.

I have played soccer since I was three years old. I love soccer so much for so many reasons. I love hanging out with my teammates because we all become so close over the year or more that we are together. One day I hope to play soccer in college. I play center midfield which means I am in the middle of the field and I run up and down the field constantly. I used to play center back which means that I was the player that was the last line before the goal and goalkeeper. I can’t imagine not having soccer after school almost everyday. Soccer has given me so much. It has made me work really hard on my fitness, especially this summer. I would go to fitness 3 days a week for an hour and a half. I think fitness has helped a lot with my confidence and my speed. 

Some of my other hobbies are dancing, spending time with friends, sewing and playing with my pets. I have a dog and two cats whom I love very much. I dance mostly at school as an art major, but I really enjoy it. 

I’m excited to be an ambassador for Dragonwing and blog about the cute and comfy clothing!

Girls Sports Bras for a Cause

 

We’ve been amazed by the response to our request for donations of sports bras for girls in India who are part of Goals for Girls‘ initiative.

But we’re just blown away by the efforts of Zoe, a 12-year old, soccer-loving girl from New York state, who took our idea and ran with it. As part of her bat mitzvah preparation, she’s collected nearly 100 clean, gently-used sports bras already and is aiming even higher!

girls high school soccer teams have donated 76 sports bras thanks to Zoe C.
The girls’ varsity soccer teams of the Fayetteville-Manlius and the Jamesville-Dewitt schools (NY) donated 76 gently-used sports bras to Goals for Girls, helping needy girls stay active. Inspired by Dragonwing girlgear, the donation drive was the project of 12-year-old Zoe C.

We pleased to introduce you to this girl-empowering girl:

How did you hear about the Dragonwing campaign to collect bras for Goals for Girls?

I read about the Dragonwing campaign in Real Simple magazine and thought it would be a great mitzvah project. My Mom and I did some online research and came up with the idea of “Bras for a Cause.”

Why did you choose sports bra donations as your bat mitzvah project? 

I love soccer, and I want to help other girls stay in the game and not have to stop playing because they don’t have the right equipment. Donating a sports bra is something that’s really simple that all girls and women can help with. It doesn’t involve people spending money; they just have to look through their own drawers.

My grandparents recently traveled to India and we studied India in school, so when I saw that Goals for Girls’ next trip was to India, I was even more excited to help.

What’s your goal of how many sports bras you’ll collect?

At first, my goal was to collect 100 bras, but I’ve already reached 76 by asking the girls’ soccer teams from my area. Now I’m hoping to get at least 200. I’ve four women’s college soccer teams respond to my email request and agree to help me. So now 100 seems too easy.

What sports do you play? What do you like about playing sports?

I play soccer and basketball, and I’m going to try volleyball soon.
I love soccer because I love being part of a team and working together. I like that it’s fast paced and things can change quickly. I also love that you get to be aggressive.

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If you’d like to donate, send your clean, gently-used sports bra(s) — any size, brand, or color — to:

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

What’s So Great about the Women’s World Cup?

 

My inspiration for Dragonwing girlgear was sparked on the sidelines of North Carolina soccer fields, and I still watch hundreds of girls’ soccer games each year. So you won’t be surprised to hear that I LOVE the Women’s World Cup. My reasons are personal — the level of play is amazing and the stories of the players never fail to move me. US women's national soccer team: We Believe!

But the most powerful aspect of the Women’s World Cup — the part that brings a lump to my throat — is the inspiration, hope, and role models that the players provide to millions of girls worldwide. Their commitment, perseverance, and love of the game says it all:  “DREAM BIG. WORK HARD. COMPETE FIERCELY. PLAY JOYFULLY. YOU CAN DO IT!”

In addition to all the amazing soccer play (how about England’s go-ahead goal versus Norway?!), there have been some perceptive and thought-provoking stories about the significance and value of the Women’s World Cup. Here are a few that I’ve particularly enjoyed:

“Why the Women’s World Cup Needs You to Watch,” by Peter Macia in Vogue magazine

The numbers of viewers, on TV and online, are vitally important, Macia argues, to sponsors, to players, to women’s sports in general, and to girls watching and playing around the world. (There’s that inspiration again!)

Watching the Women's Cup demonstrates that women's soccer and women's sports have value, writes Peter Macia in Vogue.

“What Women’s Sports Can Learn from the Colombian Women’s Team,” by Kate Fagan on ESPNW

Given the audiences in stadiums and watching the games on screens of all kinds, there are signs of legitimacy for international women’s soccer, writes Fagan. But “the final mile marker will be when everyday fans…feel comfortable offering criticism, second-guessing the coach and the choices, and putting the play itself under a microscope…. These are the conversations that fuel men’s sports.

Imagine being knowledgeable enough about women’s sports and knowing enough about a women’s team to think you know better than the coach or a player in the game’s closing minutes. Imagine knowing who else could have been the coach and which players the team might have signed.

Then imagine being confident enough to actually admit you’re into women’s sports.”

Lady Andrade, Colombia's goal

“8 Reasons We Love the Women’s World Cup,” by SoccerGrlProbs for ESPNW

World-class talent, worldwide impact, super fans and more.

fifawwc

Tween Confidence-Boosting Sports Bra

You’ve heard me  say that our mission is to empower girls to play — and be — their best, with freedom and without distraction.

The notion of girls being able to move freely without being self-conscious or distracted by their clothing is simple and yet oh-so-powerful.

Robyn, mother of soccer-playing girls ages 8 and 11, wrote to share her — and her older daughter’s — delight with our Keyhole Sports Bra. Her daughter didn’t like the tight fit of other sports bras, especially under her arms. They selected the Keyhole because its design allows for more arm movement, the fit is snug, not tight, and the fabric is super soft and stretchy.

A winning combination, as Robyn wrote:

Sports Bra so comfortable tween forgot she had it on., Mom review

 

Before ordering, Robyn checked our size chart and double-checked her selection with us, just to be sure she’d get the right fit. And she did!

We offer free shipping on every order, including for returns and exchanges, to ensure that girls get the right size and perfect fit.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Senior Soccer Season

girls high school soccer teamSpring soccer has started for Dragonwing ambassador Emma, and wow, is she excited! In her recent blog post — complete with ALL CAPS and 4 exclamation points!!!! — she recounts the somewhat surreal feelings of the spring semester of senior year.

Senior night will be for me.  It’s my last year in the CA jersey. Whaat.

Despite twinges of nervousness after not playing for 10 months — “I had no idea how good or bad I would be getting back into it” — her overwhelming feeling was how much she loves the sport and the competition.

Emma has high hopes for the team’s season. “I think our team is pretty stacked, and I personally believe a state championship is in our future.”

Isn’t that how every season should start? Subscribe to Emma’s blog so you can follow along.

 

SOCCER IS HERE!!!!

It’s finally soccer season!! I can’t believe it’s here—my senior year of soccer. It’s crazy to believe that at the end of this season, I will be done with high school. Senior night will be for me.  It’s my last year in the CA jersey. Whaat.

The last time I touched a soccer ball was 10 months ago, on our last game of last season. I had no idea how good or bad I would be getting back into it. For the first 20 minutes of our first practice back, the ball definitely felt foreign, but I’ll blame it on being indoors due to the snow, not my 10 soccer-less months.

When I finally got adjusted, I remembered how much I love soccer. And competing. I had so much freakin energy and I was so ready to play 90 minutes against our biggest rivals.

We’ve got big expectations for this year. I think our team is pretty stacked, and I personally believe a state championship is in our future. We’ll see how it goes!

Proud Sponsor of CASL Soccer

My inspiration for Dragonwing was sparked on the sidelines of the beautiful North Carolina soccer fields, so when given the opportunity to become a sponsor of the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL – pronounced “castle”), we didn’t hesitate.

Lots of Dragonwing girls play with CASL, and we’re happy to be able to support them on and off the fields. After all, empowering girls to play with confidence is what Dragonwing is all about!

If you get the chance to visit the WRAL Soccer Center in Raleigh, one of the country’s largest outdoor soccer complexes, make your way over to Field #7, now known as “Dragonwing girlgear Field.” That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?!