Mastering Her Cycle Early: The Ultimate Performance Hack for Girls in Sports

Mastering Her Cycle Early: The Ultimate Performance Hack for Girls in Sports

Cracking the code of your menstrual cycle from the get-go isn't just smart; it can be the hidden ace to nailing it in sports for life.

By playing in sync with the body’s rhythm, women and girls have a personal cheat sheet for turning every sprint, shot, routine or lap into an epic win. 

Welcome to a lifelong game plan where the goal is to not only play but to outright slay in sports by 'going with the flow' from the early cycle years. 

The Struggle for Girls is Real 

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, by the age of 14, girls are dropping out of sports at nearly twice the rate of boys. And by age 17, after most girls have gone through puberty, more than half of girls will stop doing sport altogether.

Studies into the effects of puberty on girls in relation to sport indicate that a young girl’s confidence dramatically drops with 89 per cent of girls aged 16 to 24, admitting they feel pressure to conform to the way a girl is ‘supposed to feel and act’.  

girls sport period

As young girls develop and go through puberty, they’ll face challenges, both mentally and physically. But getting her period shouldn’t be one of them.

Understanding the impact of their menstrual cycle on mood and performance can empower girls to handle the ups and downs confidently. By openly discussing their challenges with parents, coaches, and teammates, they can learn to work with their cycle rather than feeling defeated by it. This approach helps turn a monthly hurdle into an opportunity for growth, keeping girls active and helping them thrive in their pursuits.

The Impact 

In years gone by, girls playing sports have just had to endure their monthly cycle in uncomfortable silence - but those days are fortunately fading into the past (where we believe they belong!)

The menstrual cycle does absolutely have an impact on sporting performance and endurance – more than half of elite athletes highlight that their menstrual cycle can impact their capacity to exercise, training and performance levels. And, while most females experience a variety of physical symptoms during their cycle, including headaches, tiredness, tenderness and cramping, there are also times during her cycle where she'll likely be able to perform at her peak.

Understanding the Cycle

The menstrual cycle is basically split into two halves: the follicular phase, starting on the first day of menstruation, and the luteal phase, which kicks off with ovulation. Oestrogen is at its lowest when the follicular phase begins, peaks just before ovulation, drops sharply, then rises again to a moderate peak during the luteal phase.

Understanding the body’s rhythms isn't just about seeing its limits—it's also about appreciating its strengths. When girls have this knowledge, they're not just working smarter; they're also building a better connection with their bodies.

Her Cycle's Power Phase

During the early follicular phase (which begins on the first day of your period and lasts until ovulation), women and girls often experience a surge in energy and strength. This is partly due to lower levels of progesterone and oestrogen. This 'Power Phase' is an ideal time to focus on high-intensity workouts or push towards new personal bests.

On the flip side, data suggests that muscle and tendon injuries like muscle rupture, tear, strain, cramps and tendon injuries/ ruptures may occur approximately twice as often in the late follicular phase. 

According to research scientist Georgie Bruinvels from University College London, this is when oestrogen levels peak, which can cause her tendons and ligaments to become lax and elastic.  Studies have shown that there is a correlation between this phase of the menstruation cycle and an increased risk of anterior cruciate ligament injuries (knee damage), which isn't hard to believe given how common these injuries are among female professional athletes

Being aware of what is happening in the body during this time and why, means a competitor can take more time warming up; she can avoid skills that place her joints at risk and she has a heads up to use strapping or other support tools. 

tween girl menstruation

Further research conducted by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, expands on a concept called the ‘female athlete triad’, which describes the link between menstrual function, energy availability and bone health.

Female athletes training at a high and frequent intensity need to ensure they have the right amount of nutrition to fuel their bodies – low oestrogen levels combined with poor nutrition can affect energy and calcium levels and in turn, cause loss of bone density. This condition can lead to the weakening of bones, stress fractures, other sporting-related injuries and osteoporosis later in life.

Early detection of those that may be at risk is essential, and it can be managed through dietary changes and general awareness of symptoms. 

Cycle Syncing in Action

In the lead up to the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, the US national team undertook detailed surveys about their cycle and associated symptoms.

Led by US team fitness coach Dawn Scott, and in conjunction with Georgie Bruinvels, the players and coaching staff monitored when each player had symptoms at different phases of the cycle. In doing this, Bruinvels and Scott were able to develop a comprehensive understanding of each players cycle, and create appropriate strategies to minimise the impact on their performance. This included adjustments to their diets, investigating sleeping habits, the increase and decrease of training as well as other lifestyle factors.

Dawn Scott said of the research, “we want to end the taboo… at the elite level, but also for teenage girls. They should feel comfortable talking about this with their coaches”. It’s all about increasing awareness, normalising the conversation as well as improving the education around menstruation.

The US women's national team got ahead of the game and their own physical limits by using their cycle syncing strategies.

And guess what? It totally paid off – they nailed the 2019 World Cup win.

Kick Off a Conversation

We’re committed to nurturing our community of active and athletic young women, and creating a safe and understanding environment for them to grow, and if you've read to the end of this article, clearly you are too!

We hope this info ignites your interest so you can kick off a conversation with a sporty girl in your life to educate her, normalise the topic of menstruation and potentially give her a powerful cycle-syncing competitive edge.

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