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Supporting female performance in sport and fitness
Supporting female performance in sport and fitness

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8 Practical recommendations for coaches and athletes

The image shows the back of a personal trainer and the front of their client. We only see them from the neck down to the waist but they are facing each other.

The key word that appears in many research articles and literature surrounding breast health is ‘education’. It is vital that young girls and women recognise the importance of appropriate breast support when participating in sport and exercise and that it is not considered a taboo or embarrassing subject. Instead, the sports bra should be considered as an essential piece of sports kit featured on a kit list, just like a gum shield or shin guards. Ideally, coaches need to feel confident having conversations about breast support with their athletes.

Activity 6 Advice and guidance

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Listen to the following section of the podcast ‘Bounce’ where the panel offers some key tips about how to choose appropriate breast support.

Note down any advice you would give to girls, parents and coaches around breast health.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: boc_sfps_1_session5_activity6.mp3
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Advice to girls and women should include the importance of wearing a properly fitting sports bra, either by getting a professional fitting, or having the right understanding to evaluate fit yourself. Girls should be discouraged from wearing two bras, as it is a myth that this offers better support, and a properly fitted sports bra should be sufficient.

Also, girls should receive in-school education on sports bras, as with dance and PE forming part of the curriculum, all girls need a sports bra. If all girls are required to wear one as essential PE kit this could alleviate the embarrassment and self-consciousness that some girls experience.

Educating and empowering girls when they are younger is especially important, as girls going through puberty will experience physical changes to their body shape, and breast development. This can be an especially sensitive and vulnerable time for girls in terms of body confidence, and embarrassment about breast development is one reason why girls might not want to engage in physical activity.

Education materials for use in schools are freely available through ‘Treasure your Chest [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ’, a collaborative research group, who have made resources available to empower girls and young women to know more about their breasts.

This is a graphic with the words ‘Treasure your chest: empowering girls to know and love their breasts’.

Parents or guardians have a role to play in educating their daughters and are typically responsible for taking their daughter for a bra fitting. If going for a fitting, parents/guardians should discuss with their daughter what is likely to happen during a fitting to lessen any anxiety or worry. The panel in Activity 5 suggested that when taking their daughter for their first bra they should include fitting for a sports bra. However, it should also be noted that teaching girls how to fit a bra for themselves is really important.

Parents, teachers and coaches can all play an important role in helping girls understand the importance of breast support.