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She gave up sport because of the uniform

Why uniforms can be a barrier to girls playing sport

Did you know that your daughter’s uniform could be the reason that she stops playing sport?

For many girls, their sports uniform can make them feel embarrassed or that their bodies are on display. How the uniform fits, what it’s made of, or how it looks, can all be reasons why an adolescent girl stops playing sport – because she doesn’t feel comfortable or confident. For girls that aren’t active, the type of uniform they have to wear could be critical to get them involved in sport.

New research by Victoria University has found that uniforms are a crucial factor for girls when choosing to play sport and be active. More than 300 girls aged 12-18 were asked what they want to wear.

So what do girls want?

Girls want uniforms that make them feel comfortable, confident, and ready to play sport. They want:

  1. Clothing that helps them perform at their best.
  2. Uniforms that fit well (so not too tight or too loose). “Please get tracksuits so that we can all feel comfortable in our body, also hoodies/sweatshirts to feel relaxed and not always tight fitted everything”.
  3. Dark coloured bottoms—no white shorts or pants.
  4. Uniforms made from material that hides sweat, is stretchy and is in plain colours. They don’t want light colours or patterns.
  5. No unisex clothing – uniforms need to be designed just for girls.
  6. Clothing that doesn’t make them feel too exposed. As one girl said about her netball skirt, “…it’s annoying when you bend over or it’s windy and everyone can see your butt.”
  7. Girls want options, including to be able to wear leggings or shorts and different options for summer and winter.

It seems pretty obvious—girls want to be comfortable, they want uniforms that fit properly. Of course, not all girls are the same and some have different preferences.

So what can parents do?

Talk to your daughter. Find out how she feels about her sport uniform.

If your daughter doesn’t find her sport uniform comfortable or she doesn’t feel confident, why not talk to the club or school? Make them aware of her concerns, so that they can consider the design of the uniforms in the future. Maybe changes could be made to enable your daughter to feel more comfortable and keep playing.

It is hard enough to keep teenage girls active without the sport uniform adding a barrier. There are many things that girls feel self-conscious about—their sport uniform should not be on the list. You could play a key role to help teenage girls wear uniforms that make them feel comfortable and ready to play sport.

You can find out more about the uniform research here.

Last updated: March 30, 2021 at: 3:43 pm