Feeling they're not "good enough" prevents teenage girls from taking part in sport, research reveals 1 year ago

Feeling they're not "good enough" prevents teenage girls from taking part in sport, research reveals

Brought to you by Sport Ireland #WomeninSportIRE

Not feeling good enough is the "most powerful barrier" that prevents inactive girls from taking part in sport, a new report has shown.


The Adolescent Girls Get Active Research Report, recently released by Sport Ireland, was undertaken to discover how to encourage teenage girls, particularly those currently disengaged with sport and exercise, to take part in regular physical activity.

The research showed that capability and the feeling of not being “good enough” is the most powerful barrier that prevents inactive girls from taking part in sport.

The report identified a number of challenges and barriers teenage girls experience when accessing sport and physical activity.

Research found that teenage girls in Ireland have a narrow and often negative experience of a small number of traditional team sports in Ireland, and think this is all that sport is and can be.


It was also shown that girls associate ‘sportiness’ with team and contact sports, so girls who are interested in exercise do not feel targeted with sporting initiatives.

The project focused on teenage girls in Ireland with the aim of identifying their attitudes, needs and desires in relation to sport and physical activity.

The qualitative research, conducted online between August and October 2020, involved a deep exploration into the lives, behaviours and attitudes to sport, of teenage girls aged 13-18 in both rural and urban areas.

Despite the physical contrasts in rural and urban living, the research found that the wants and needs of teenage girls are often similar.


The findings showed that there are a lack of social spaces for teens where they feel welcomed, wanted and included, and that there are limited opportunities to try new things, learn new skills and ultimately feel good about themselves.

The researchers established five key anchors that really matter to teenage girls.  Friends and friendships were shown to be their biggest priorities as well as independence and opportunity, social connection, moments of pride and managing the many pressures teenage girls are under.

Building on these findings, the research established 8 Principles for Success to engage and connect with teenage girls and to support them to embrace sport and physical activity into their lives.

The 8 Principles for Success include:

  • No judgement
  • Invoke Excitement
  • Clear emotional reward
  • Open eyes to what is there
  • Build on existing habits
  • Give girls a voice & choice
  • Champion what’s in it for them
  • Expand image of what ‘sporty’ looks like

The report states that sports organisations can use these 8 Principles for Success to check and challenge existing programmes, with the view of improving their appeal and relevance for the teenage girl audience. They can also be used to innovate and develop completely new initiatives through a teenage girl lens.

Participating in sport and physical activity provides multiple benefits for physical and mental health, and for potential quality of life. A recent report from Sport Ireland revealed that the most powerful change in encouraging girls to take part in sport and physical activity is empowering them to feel good enough to join in.

For more information on how you can make a difference, read the new Sport Ireland “Adolescent Girls Get Active” report here.

Brought to you by Sport Ireland #WomeninSportIRE