There is a large difference between the number of males and females playing sports, the main difference being only twelve percent of girls in England around the age of fourteen meet the official guidelines for physical activity, compared to the vast amount of boys.
It's not that girls don’t want to participate in sports (as seventy four percent of girls have said that they wanted to become more active) it’s more that, in many cases, they fear being judged. This article will demonstrate some top tips for engaging girls and young women in sports.
It is believed that girls are highly influenced by the opinions of their friends and peers and are more likely going to feel comfortable taking part in new activities as part of a group. Therefore when trying to engage girls in school sports, it may be beneficial to attract the individual with the most influence to encourage their friends to participate in your sporting activities, PE lessons or to join your sports club.
Supporting Girls to Develop a Positive Body Image
One of the main reasons as to why girls and young women are less likely to join sports clubs or participate in exercise is because many of them feel self-conscious about their bodies. Although, it is believed engaging in sports and exercise is a great way to overcome these insecurities.
Focus on Achievement, Not Image
Many girls tend to feel more self conscious when an exercise/sporting classes put emphasis on improving their body's appearance and how it should look. Instead, classes should encourage girls to focus more on what their bodies can do and what they are really capable of achieving in terms of fitness. Therefore, it may even be effective to discourage girls to exercise for appearance related reasons as it is more likely going to cause upset, frustration and loss of interest in exercise and sports.
Set Realistic and Achievable Goals
Finally, one of the most beneficial ways to boost a girl’s self esteem is to increase their feelings of self-efficacy, ensuring they feel more contempt and in control of their bodies. This can be done by setting realistic, achievable goals each week to achieve within the next session, which may be as basic as just turning up and having a go. If girls are to see they’re making progress and gaining achievements they are more likely to feel good within themselves and will want to continue their sports and exercise sessions.
Another effective way of improving girls self -esteem is to place realistic images within advertising and other campaigns as images of girls playing sports in a full face of makeup and not one drop of sweat may make the girls feel unattractive and self-conscious if they are to sweat or become red-faced during exercise.
Girls are more attracted to bright, bold colours and photographs, they also respond well to images of people having fun compared to the conventional serious sporting images. Including these elements within your advertising is more likely going to help encourage girls to participate and want to have fun. Getting children involved in advertising your club through letting children create their own posters or write a story about your club will see more children wanting to get involved.
Finally, allowing children to suggest their own games, specific warm ups, or competitions will let them feel as though they are in charge and will also boost their independence and ultimately their self esteem. The more girls that are seen to be having fun, the more girls that will want to join.
Remove the Stigma Associated to Girls Playing Sports
Implementing a number of these top tips will help ensure girls feel confident enough to participate in sports. We want to remove the judgement girls face when wanting to play sports and encourage them to do so. Hopefully from this we can turn that minor participation of just twelve percent and raise it to one hundred, ensuring girls feel happy and confident to take on sports.