Reframe sport for teenage girls, says charity

Women in Sport has called on sports organisations for more help in preventing girls from dropping out of sport and physical activity during their teenage years.

The charity’s ‘Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls’ study, released this week, puts teenage girls at the heart of its research to understand what motivates them in their wider lives and looks at how sport could be ‘reframed’ to be more relevant to girls, particularly for those deemed to be ‘not sporty’.

As girls go through their teenage years, habits and attitudes are formed which have a critical impact on their future engagement in sport and physical activity. Barriers to exercise created at this age can end up inhibiting participation throughout their life, with girls missing out on the lifelong benefits of sport.

Studies have shown that teenage girls are significantly less active than teenage boys, with only 10% of girls aged 13 to 16 meeting the recommended daily guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity per day (Sport England, 2018).

Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls, which was funded by Sport England, shares Women in Sport’s ‘Eight Principles of Success’ that were identified as key in developing initiatives that engage girls. They are:

     No judgement – take the pressure off performance and give girls the freedom to play

     Invoke excitement – bring a sense of adventure and discovery to sport

     Give purpose and value – reframe achievement as ‘moments of pride’ not just winning

     Open their eyes – redefine sport as more than just PE at school

     Build into existing habits – tap into behaviours in other spheres of girls’ lives

     Give girls a voice – allow girls the choice and control to feel empowered

     Champion what’s in it for them – sport is about more than just health

     Expand the image of what is ‘sporty’ – create relatable role models which inspire girls

Ruth Holdaway, Chief Executive of Women in Sport, said: “There are so many pressures on girls today that even the most active are at risk of stopping playing sport as they hit the teenage years.

“Sports organisations need to get to grips with the way teenage girls live their lives; their hopes, fears and aspirations. Sport must be relevant to the complex and busy lives these girls lead.

“Women in Sport’s latest research has been designed to help sports organisations lead the way in understanding girls’ lives. This is the start of a long-term programme putting girls front and centre to reframe sport, making sure it plays a part in their everyday lives.”

Women in Sport are calling for organisations to apply the Principles of Success. Research also suggests that collaboration is vital in building solutions that have a wider, sustainable impact on girls’ lives, both within and beyond the sports sector, and between organisations and the girls themselves.

To find out more, visit the Women in Sport page on the ConnectSport directory. To add your organisation to the directory, contact