Girls face special challenges and barriers to participating in sports and physical activity. The statistics reflect this fact.
Girls are challenged by things such as: a lack of physical literacy, limited confidence in their abilities, poor body image, too much school work, family expectations at home, different interpersonal barriers.
The good news is that there are proven strategies for getting and keeping girls in the game. The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) has some great coaching and parenting tips to support girls in sport and activity.
Olympians support girls in sport
See what Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Heil has to say about supporting girls in sport.
Jenn knows from experience that girls and boys don’t play the same. That’s why she runs mogul skiing camps just for girls.
Similarly, gold medal cross-country skier Chandra Crawford founded the “Fast and Female” organization. It was set up to “support, motivate, inspire and empower girls ages 9 to 19 to stick to sports and the healthy lifestyle” through innovative sport programs, role models and mentorship.
Considering the importance of sport and activity in girls’ health, it’s important to get our daughters in the game early.
Tips to support girls in sport and physical activity
- Emphasize fun and fitness rather than competition or negative experiences. For example, don’t celebrate spectacular sport injuries when you tell stories around sport and activity. Fear of getting hurt is one of the reasons why girls and women don’t participate.
- Use inclusive language so girls know they have a place in sport. For example, never say derogatory things like “you throw like a girl.”
- Make a statement about the importance of physical activity. For example, talk about the benefits of maintaining good body image and increased self-confidence.
- Share personal experiences and stories about how sport makes you feel.
- Share your role models by talking about a woman who influenced your life.