Muslim teenager playing basketball

Toolkit: Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls


Last updated: July 2023

Our toolkit inspired by Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls brings you resources and key findings from the research which is funded by Sport England.  It also brings together important insight about girls from various other sectors and will be updated regularly as new insight becomes available.

You can watch a video of the presentation given at the launch of this research by Head of Insight and Innovation Kate Nicholson below:

Explore the toolkit

Click on the dropdowns below to find out what you can think, say and do to make sure sport is inclusive and welcoming for teenage girls.


A group of teenagers from different backgrounds playing school netball

Understanding the challenge

This section will provide you with a wealth of background understanding on teenage girls’ lives, so you can understand not only their relationship with sport and physical activity, but also the wider issues they are facing and gain insight into what is important to them more broadly in their world. You will be able to access up-to-date statistics on behaviours and attitudes, understand more about the impact of puberty on sport, as well as hearing from girls talking about sport and their lives, first hand. Many of the latest reports from the last year focus on the lasting impact of the covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis.

Sharing insight

Before embarking on development of new ideas we recommend you use these resources to help immerse stakeholders and decision-makers in the world of teenage girls and their relationship with sport.


Here we provide you with links to and references from various different published reports, which examine important aspects of this life-stage for teenage girls from health and wellbeing, to body image and confidence.

Active Lives Children and Young People Survey – Academic year 2021-22 Report

This report from Sport England provides insight into the activity levels of children aged 5-16, both in and out of school. The findings show that activity levels amongst teenage girls remain flat compared to the previous 12 months. Teenage girls are significantly less likely than boys to enjoy being active and feel confident taking part. Previous Active Lives surveys can be found on the Sport England website.

Read Women in Sport’s reaction to the latest Active Lives Children and Young People Survey: Girls’ Sporting Lives Stagnant Despite the Glory of the Lionesses – Action is Needed to Close the Gender Gap

Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2023 (Girlguiding UK, 2023)

This latest research from Girlguiding’s annual attitudes survey asked over 2,000 girls and young women aged 7-21, both inside and outside Girlguiding, how they feel about the specific and emerging pressures facing them today, and the implications of this for their happiness, wellbeing and opportunities in life. Previous surveys dating back to 2009 can be found on the Girlguiding website.

The Good Childhood Report 2023 (The Children’s Society, 2023)

This is the twelfth report from The Children’s Society which paints the current national picture of children’s subjective well-being, using the latest comprehensive statistics and trend data. It highlights significant gender differences in several aspects of wellbeing.



These films provide you with an understanding of the challenges faced directly from the girls themselves and enable you to view the problem through their eyes. These films are very useful resources to help others connect with the target group and we would recommend using these to set the scene for your audience before developing programmes and seeking solutions.


Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls – Girls tell us how they feel about sport

Teenage girls tell us how they feel about sport and the barriers they face.

Puberty & Sport: An Invisible Stage – Sport changes

Girls talk about how sport changed for them as they get older. 

Puberty & Sport: An Invisible Stage – Under pressure

Girls talk about the increased pressure and scrutiny they feel during puberty.

Puberty & Sport: An Invisible Stage – A day in the life of puberty and periods

An animation created from girls telling us how they feel on a typical day when dealing with puberty and periods.

Big Sister – Supporting Girls to Enjoy Sport During Puberty

In the launch film for our Big Sister project (read more about this project in the “Do” section), girls talk about the complex barriers that impact their enjoyment of sport and exercise.

Research Report – Puberty & Sport: An Invisible Stage (Women in Sport, 2018)

Women in Sport’s research on the impact of puberty on girls’ relationship with sport and physical activity and the key barriers to sport during this time.



Here we provide insight from our recent ethnographic online community, which provides a glimpse into the important aspects of girls’ everyday lives, and key resources which offer a broader understanding of this generation of teenage girls.

What Really Matters in Girls’ Lives?

Five important anchors from our Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls research which reflect what teenage girls’ value most in their lives. These uncover valuable parallels where girls are motivated, committed and engaged in other areas of life, which could be applied to sport and physical activity.

IPSOS Thinks Beyond Binary – The Lives & Choices of Generation Z (IPSOS Mori, 2018)

This report pulls together existing and new analysis, as well as new research on the latest ‘Generation Z’, to understand how they compare to previous generations, which can help us to better understand and engage with them.

The State of Girls’ Rights in the UK 2019-2020 (Plan International UK, 2020)

Following on from their 2016 report on girls’ rights in the UK, this latest report uses a mixed methodological approach to provide a broad assessment of girls’ lives in the UK, with a primary focus on qualitative research with girls aged 10-25 to hear their voices.


A teenage girl in gymnastics class

Messaging and communications

Too many girls at this life-stage, are also developing negative attitudes towards sport and physical activity which become increasingly difficult to shift as they get older and act as barriers to participation throughout their lives. In this section we share some communications and messaging Women in Sport and others have done specifically around sport for teenage girls and also about self-esteem, confidence and gender-stereotyping which can be significant barriers to sport for girls.

1. Women in Sport – #TimeTogether Campaign

In October 2020 Women in Sport launched its #TimeTogether campaign to inspire teenage girls to get active with their mums.

Our Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls research looked at the importance of understanding the lives of teenage girls and appreciating what is important in helping them find the joy, fulfilment and inspiration for being active. One of the key insights our research uncovered was the power of the relationship between mums/mother-figures and daughters. Teenage girls cherish alone time with their mum and view their relationship as a ‘safe space’ without any fear of judgement. This provides an opportunity for both to be active together, and discover the joy, fun and well-being benefits of exercise.

Read more about our annual campaign and get involved here.

2. This Girl Can Supporter’s Toolkit

With loads of photos, logos, templates and tips, you’ll be able to use the This Girl Can campaign to create or promote your activities and help get more girls moving and feeling great about doing it. In 2020, This Girl Can in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust released a campaign resource for girls aged 11-18 to develop and deliver their own This Girl Can campaign in their secondary school.

This Girl Can… Create Change! school resources


3. The Dove Self-Esteem Project

Learn about Dove’s Self-Esteem Project and explore their useful tools and resources to better understand how body confidence and self-esteem impacts girls and their lives, as well and the things you can say and do to support them.

Dove film: Change One Thing – How Our Girls See Themselves

Dove film: Beauty on Your Own Terms

Dove film: Heather’s Story


4. Always – ‘Like a Girl’ Campaign

Learn about Always’ stereotyping and empowerment campaign to encourage girls during puberty to embrace failure as fuel to build confidence and explore their useful tools and resources to support girls to keep playing sport #LikeaGirl.

Always film: #LikeaGirl


Two black teenage girls playing netballEnhancing existing programmes and developing new ideas

Guidance to generate new thinking around sport for teenage girls and put this into practice using our 8 Principles for Success. Includes resources to support your understanding of a teenage girl audience and ideas for turning insight into action, as well as examples of existing initiatives and good practice.

We recommend you use these resources to support the following:

  • When looking to generate new ideas to engage teenage girls in sport and exercise
  • When considering how to enhance an existing programme or initiative
  • When looking to adapt a programme specifically for girls in this age group


  1. Understanding the insight

Review the insight to understand girls’ wider lives and engagement with sport and exercise in the ‘Think’ section of this toolkit and read our key research reports below.

Research Report – Reframing Sport for Teenage Girls (Women in Sport, 2019)

Research Report – Tackling Teenage Disengagement (Women in Sport, 2022)

  1. Understanding your audience

Tools and techniques to help you gain a deeper understanding of the target group of teenage girls you wish to work with. Consulting with girls is essential to shaping an offer which meets their needs and increases the probability that girls will take up and keep coming back to your activities.

Spectrum of Engagement

Illustrates the broad spectrum of girls’ engagement with sport and physical activity that exists.

A Guide to Understanding Your Audience

Practical step-by-step guide on how to use innovative tools to consult with teenage girls and gain a deeper understanding of their needs and desires in relation to sport and exercise.

Teenage Girl Personas

Example personas which illustrate the needs and experiences of different girls on our spectrum of engagement. Learn how to create and use personas in the above guide.


Empathy Map Template

Use this template with the above ‘Guide to Understanding your Audience’, to inform your thinking of girls’ needs.


  1. Applying the insight and generating ideas

Resources, case studies and a selection of existing programmes and initiatives for teenage girls to inspire new ideas and to help you apply our 8 Principles for Success.

8 Principles for Success (infographic)

Principles developed to support organisations to develop and evaluate initiatives through a teenage girl lens to ensure they are accessible, engaging and exciting.

A Guide to Applying the 8 Principles for Success

A practical, reflective guide to applying the 8 Principles for Success to the design, delivery and marketing of sport and exercise programmes and initiatives for teenage girls.


Good Practice for Teenage Girls

Case Studies:

Beacon Cricket Club Mums and Daughters Team– Leveraging the mum and daughter bond in sport.

Programmes and Initiatives:

Women in Sport – Big Sister Programme

Our Big Sister programme, launched in 2022, demonstrates how we applied our insights to an initiative. Read the impact report of this pilot project here: Big Sister: breaking down barriers to activity for teen girls – Women In Sport. The Big Sister website, which went live as part of this programme, continues to provide free support, information and resources for teenage girls.

England Golf – Girls golf rocks

Sport England – Studio You

Sport Ireland – Her Moves

Chance to Shine – Secondary School Programme: Girls Leadership through Cricket

Football Beyond Borders – FBB Schools – Girls

Maslaha & British Fencing – Muslim Girls Fence

Street Games – Us Girls

Youth Sports Trust – Girls Active

Other Resources:

Reframing Competition Resource

Interactive resource to support practitioners which considers alternative ways to deliver competition to engage more young people containing animations, case studies and top delivery tips.