Smash it Like a Girl

Take a teenage girl and tell her that she can enter an environment where no-one cares what she looks like. Where it doesn’t matter if she’s tall or short, fat or thin. Her hair colour is irrelevant – no-one is judging. She doesn’t need to wear make up, or put on any mask.

She may be tempted; it sounds so liberating compared with the stifling, judgemental arena of school.

The environment is sport.

Tell a teenage girl that she can enter into sport and statistically she will back away.

I teach Taekwon-do. It’s a Korean martial art and it’s an Olympic sport. Every time we get a teenage girl joining our club, I whoop with joy. I’d do a dance if I could, because the majority of teenage girls in the UK don’t do sport.

The reasons are varied. I can tell you from my years of experience teaching, that sweat plays a big part: girls don’t want to sweat. They see sport as unfeminine and this, coupled with a drop in self esteem as they hit puberty, makes the drop out rate high.

Do you remember the campaign: Like a Girl? When asked to run or throw like a girl, adults responded meekly, but young girls did it with athletic vigour – they had yet to be conditioned.

We need female role models. We need varied PE lessons. We need to ensure that as parents we’re not favouring the boys when it comes to encouraging sports.

Quite often girls feel that it is the most athletic girls in the school who get all the attention and I would really agree that this is so often the case. In addition to this it has been suggested that girls like to connect with other girls and to form relationships, that they then don’t want to jeopardise with ruthless competition.

I have 4 daughters and a step daughter who are all black belts in Taekwon-do. One of the 5 plays every sport going, the others are less sporty. This is why Taekwon-do is so good for teenage girls. They don’t have to conform to any athletic stereotype – they can be themselves. They can perform like the girl that they are. This is empowering in itself. Their self confidence grows, while at the same time they are learning skills in self defence.

There is no ‘like a girl’ negativity associated with Taekwon-do. Males and females are equal: both face the same personal challenges. Our challenge as coaches and parents is to do everything we can to encourage girls to ignore the stereotypes, embrace the sweat and smash it like a girl!

Tasha sparring

Step daughter smashing it like a girl

22 thoughts on “Smash it Like a Girl”

  1. Love this! And just wow to the black belts. It is so sad when girls stop sport – my 14 year old is still very sporty – it’s one of her big passions – I love her for that and long may it continue – you’re right about role models – her’s is Jessica Ennis – I do think the olympics helped with that – girls do need more positive role models in sport think it is ok to sweat! #coolmumclub

    1. The olympics definitely helped. I think offering girls a range of sports is important too. It sounds as if our 14 year olds are very similar!

  2. I love this! I literally wanted to get up and cheer reading this! I think a lot of it has to do with us comforming and subconciously raising our kids under the gender stereotypes. I would seriously consider getting my girl into martial arts just to avoid that and make her strong strong strong! Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub lovely x

    1. Thank you so much! I agree that we follow stereotypes without even realising it. It is hugely complex, as all these sorts of issues are, but the bottom line is that we need to change. Martial arts is seriously addictive and that includes both sexes and all ages!

  3. This is such an inspirational post. My daughter plays hockey and cricket but still classifies herself as not being one of the sporty crew, which to her are always the girls at school who are in every A team regardless of the season. I would love her to take up something else for her as an individual and have been trying to persuade her school to look at alternative sport options – this is good food for thought. #coolmumclub

    1. I see this problem a lot at secondary schools. Those who play netball and hockey, are given the most attention. They get the team shirts, the team hoodies, the sports trip away. This culture in schools needs to be changed. We teach Taekwon-do in 6 schools to every age and it is hugely popular, especially among girls. Perhaps a martial art would suit your daughter? Thank you for your comments.

  4. Amazing! Hurray to you for being such a positive role model to your girls. I really hope to encourage both of my children to participate in sports and “Like a girl” has always made me want to kick someone (not in the least bit “like a girl”) and I applaud the campain to reinforce such a positive and inspirational meaning behind the saying. Great read. #coolmumclub x

    1. Thank you for your very kind and positive comments. What I’d like to see is it being positive to say: like a girl and equally to say: like a boy. Let’s celebrate our differences and our similarities in sport in a positive way.

  5. Great post; so important to start this off from a young age isnt it? And how many of us now in our 30s and 40’s have categorised ourselves as not being into sport due to our experiences at School. Great that things like Taekwondo are now on the agenda and not just the traditional Netball and Hockey #brilliantblogposts

    1. Thank you for your comments. Yes, it is so important to get them in to sports and then, most importantly, to keep them motivated. The traditional sports are fine, but there is so much more out there.

  6. A very important post. It is a shame that young girls drop out of sport for such a silly reasons really.
    I am not into contact sports, but I used to go to athletics school back in Poland. We had 2 hours of PE daily, plus 2 hours of swimming on top once a week. It was great as classes were separated into boys and girls, so the atmosphere was totally different and we could feel ourselves, rather than act (or act out) in front of the boys.

    1. That sounds like such a good idea. When I was at school, changing rooms were a big issue for girls and a real turn off to doing PE. Let’s hope things change. Thank you for commenting.

  7. You sound like one hardcore family. I won’t mess with you. But seriously, good on you. It’s sad that more girls and young women don’t do more sports. Perhaps that’s why so much angst exists amongst teenagers these days? I always did a lot of sport. I was never really good at anything (apart from trampolining), but I always enjoyed taking part and the buzz that gives you is immense.

    Sally @ Life Loving

    1. You are spot on about the buzz! I think you are right about the teenage angst too. Sport can definitely help release tension, as well as build up a social network and provide goals. Thank you for your comments.

  8. This is great. I always thought sports were fun and was quite happy to play tennis or frisbee outside of school with friends, but I hated P.E. I definitely felt like no-one was interested unless you were top of the class. I think it’s important to expose kids to lots of different sports (I only remember netball or hockey, really), but if anyone had taken the time to listen, I was actually pretty good at Tennis. Martial Arts is another sport that is never taught in schools but could be just the thing that sparks a child’s interest. My daughter has just started doing indoor Kurling at school and she really enjoys it! #DreamTeam

    1. Absolutely. We teach Taekwon-do in 6 schools and would love to get it on the PE curriculum, as an alternative to the team sports and/or more traditional school sports. Girls do not always get listened to and that’s such a shame about your tennis. Also, it is often said that only the girls who are the best in the school, get any recognition. Thank you so much for your comments.

  9. Love this post. My daughter is 21 months old but I very much hope that she gets into a sport when she is older. Wow, well done to all your girls on their achievements. Sounds like they are very much good at what they do and what’s more enjoy it! #dreamteam

  10. I love this and nodding along with everything you wrote. I was very committed to ballet and gymnastics until I was 16 years old, which I absolutely loved. But as a result of it, I am more muscly in my physique than other girls and quite often it will get mentioned that my calves are more muscly etc, and I hate it. It makes me want to hide myself and I don’t like that at all. Practising those sports gave me so much – commitment, determination, courage, learning how to deal with criticism & disappointment – and I should be proud! Thanks for linking up to #dreamteam Hope to see you next time x

    1. Yes, show off your muscles! It’s wonderful to have a strong body. Thank you for your comments. Wear those muscles with pride 🙂 x

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