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Of Grit and Grace: Negotiating Puberty, Surviving, and Succeeding in Professional Ballet

Siobhan B. Mitchell, Anne M. Haase, and Sean P. Cumming

Experiences of puberty and how individuals adapt to puberty may be integral to success in ballet; however, there is a paucity of current research in this area. This study explores the lived experiences of nine professional ballet dancers to capture the journey of negotiating puberty in a ballet context. An interpretative phenomenological analysis approach was employed with semistructured interviews utilized to gather rich, descriptive accounts from nine professional ballet dancers from the United Kingdom and United States. Lived experiences were characterized by conflict and struggle, coming to terms with physical changes and possessing grit and grace in order to successfully negotiate puberty, and to succeed and survive in professional ballet. Accepting physical and esthetic strengths and weaknesses and learning how to adapt or how to compensate for weaknesses was described as pivotal. Factors such as social support, the timing and extent of pubertal changes, dance teacher behaviors, and the ballet training context influenced the extent to which dancers experienced conflict and struggle and how easily they were able to come to terms with their adult physique. Further research is needed to explore the implications of maturing and developing within the context of ballet training and to develop strategies to better facilitate healthy development in ballet.

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“It’s Not Particularly P.C., You Know . . .”: Women Coaches’ Performing Gender in Strength and Conditioning

Gavin Thomas, Jaime Guinan, and Győző Molnár

Strength and conditioning (S&C) has become a chief part of athletes’ physiological preparation. Despite S&C’s growing presence across sports, women coaches have been generally marginalized and underrepresented. This study explores female S&C coaches’ experiences and coping mechanisms in a male-dominated industry. Semi-structured interviews with 15 female S&C coaches were conducted. The main themes identified from interview data are organizational politics, impression management, and humor. The findings suggest that women S&C coaches are often in subservient positions and have to adopt some traditional, male-generated subcultural practices to fit in. They carefully manage their coaching front stage to generate an impression that is expected and accepted in the given milieu. In their efforts to fit in, women often find themselves in a multiplicity of power matrices that involve a continuous negotiation of gender identity, internal politics, and sexist banter.

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Jumping Test for Assessing Peak Power in Female Volleyball and Football Players

Marcin Krawczyk, Mariusz Pociecha, Paulina Kozioł, Aleksandra Stepek, and Gabriela Gębica

The countermovement jump test (CMJ) is commonly used as an indicator of the anaerobic capacity of the lower limbs. The main objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between the CMJ with arm swing and the Wingate anaerobic test (WAnT) among female volleyball and football players. A group of first league female volleyball club players (VG, n = 12, age = 24.2 years), a group of first league female football club players (FG, n = 12, age = 20.6 years), and a control group (CG, n = 10, age = 20.4 years) participated in this research. The measurements of selected somatic features were carried out. The CMJ and WAnT were used to assess the explosive strength and maximum muscle power of the lower extremities. An analysis of variance test demonstrated differences between the VG and FG in terms of height (p < .001), body weight (p < .001), and lean body mass (p < .001). In the FG and VG groups, correlations between CMJ and maximum anaerobic power as determined by WAnT were r = .82 and r = .57, respectively. There was not statistically significant differences between values of these coefficients. The obtained results showed a potentially lean body mass influence on the results of the CMJ in VG. In women’s football and volleyball, the results of the CMJ are strongly correlated with the power parameters registered with the WAnT. In volleyball, players’ coaches should include a measurement of lean body mass in the assessment peak power by vertical jump tests.

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Perceptions of Physical Activity Changes Due to COVID-19 Restrictions Among Women in the United Kingdom

Jacky J. Forsyth, Lorna Makay, and Victoria Riley

The purpose of the current study was to explore, via interview, how and why women felt their physical activity levels and active lifestyles had been affected by COVID-19. Telephone interviews were conducted with 23 women, aged between 28 and 52 years from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds in the United Kingdom. Based on reflexive thematic analysis, the perceived reduction in exercise and the increase in sedentary behavior that many of these women experienced were felt to be a result of the physical restrictions imposed through gym and leisure-facility closure, the change in circumstance (both work and home life), the perceived risks associated with exercising during a pandemic, as well as a lack of peer support. In contrast, some women experienced increased opportunity and time to exercise, which they felt benefited their health. For any future pandemic-related restrictions, exercise practitioners should consider promoting exercise with others in a safe environment in order to ensure that women’s healthy exercise and lifestyle behaviors are maintained.

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Negotiating the Funhouse: CrossFit Women and the Looking Glass Athlete

Nancy L. Malcom, Shaun Edmonds, Christina Gipson, Caitlyn Hauff, and Hannah Bennett

While there have been dramatic increases in women’s participation in sport and physical activity following the implementation of Title IX in the United States, many women still face challenges negotiating societal expectations of femininity with the muscularity developed through exercise. In this study, the authors used focus group interviews with 47 women who participate in CrossFit to explore how female athletes understand their developing athletic identity through social interactions. Even as the participants expressed high levels of self-confidence and personal growth, which they attributed to their instrumental involvement with CrossFit, their discussions of what other people think of their nontraditional fitness activities and concomitant body changes were a constant source of frustration. Using the identity-building framework of Cooley’s theory of the looking glass self, the authors find that women are faced with not merely reflections, but distorted funhouse mirrors; reflections that are heavily warped by gendered patriarchal societal norms. Surrounded by an array of potentially confusing and distracting “funhouse” mirrors, these female athletes used CrossFit’s local and expanded community, as well as their own burgeoning self-efficacy, to navigate their changing bodies and identities.

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Volume 29 (2021): Issue 1 (Apr 2021)

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Getting Back on Their Feet: Women in Sport and Exercise Academic Network Virtual Conference, Sept 7–8, 2020

Jacky Forsyth, Nicola Brown, Rachael Bullingham, and Claire-Marie Roberts

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Microaggressions Experienced by Women and Gender Diverse Athletes in Competitive Cycling

Erin E. Ayala, Alison Riley-Schmida, Kathryn P. A. Faulkner, and Kelsey Maleski

Competitive cycling is a sport with limited levels of diversity, particularly concerning gender. Women and gender diverse cyclists are likely to experience actions from others that reveal underlying assumptions based on their gender, race, or other cultural identities. This mixed-methods investigation used feminist theory and a transformative paradigm to highlight the experiences of women and gender diverse cyclists in a male-dominated sport. The authors explored the nature of microaggressions, perceived underlying messages, responses to such actions, and the feelings provoked. Two hundred and seventy-nine cyclists responded to the survey. Over three-quarters of participants reported being bothered by one or more microaggressions that they experienced in the competitive cycling community. Three primary themes emerged for types of microaggressions: assumptions based on gender, inequitable treatment, and harassment. A small percentage of participants noted an absence of microaggressions in competitive cycling environments. Although participants responded to microaggressions in several ways and experienced a range of emotions, the most common response to microaggressions was to not engage. Over half of the participants reported feelings of anger or frustration due to the microaggressions, followed by feelings of sadness. The results from this study complement what researchers have previously reported regarding female athletes and microaggressions in other sports. Implications and findings are discussed in the context of community norms and the need for a paradigm shift to promote inclusivity and diversity in the sport.

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Physical Activity and the Menstrual Cycle: A Mixed-Methods Study of Women’s Experiences

Petra V. Kolić, David T. Sims, Kirsty Hicks, Laura Thomas, and Christopher I. Morse

The menstrual cycle is an important biological process in women that is associated with a range of physical symptoms, which can shape how women think, feel, and participate in activities of daily life. This study employed a mixed-methods design to investigate adult women’s physical activity throughout the menstrual cycle. One hundred and twenty-eight participants completed an online questionnaire that explored events of the menstrual cycle (e.g., bleeding, pain, fatigue) and physical activity. Semistructured interviews with 21 questionnaire respondents unpacked individual experiences of physical activity throughout the menstrual cycle. From the questionnaire data, 44 participants were categorized as avoiders and 84 as nonavoiders of physical activity due to menstrual events. Avoiders of physical activity reported longer periods, heavier menstrual flow, and higher levels of fatigue and pain compared with nonavoiders. Interviews revealed that avoidance of physical activity ranged from complete avoidance to adaptation (e.g., types of exercise). Reasons for avoidance and adaptation of physical activity included menstrual symptoms, personal thoughts, and concerns about other people’s views of the period. The present study findings emphasize the importance of not only evaluating prevalent physical symptoms, but also unpacking women’s individual perspectives and established societal norms to better understand and normalize physical activity throughout the menstrual cycle.

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Are Coaches of Female Athletes Informed of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport? A Scoping Review

Jennifer Hamer, Ben Desbrow, and Chris Irwin

In the last decade, there has been greater appreciation of the harmful consequences of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), particularly in adolescent female athletes. Coaches act as both important moderators in the development of the condition and as identifiers of athletes at risk. Research suggests that coaches lack knowledge on this topic. At present, it is unclear if RED-S education is incorporated into coach accreditation pathways. The aim of this scoping review was to describe the extent to which RED-S education is incorporated into the coach accreditation pathways of endurance sporting organizations. Five national sporting organizations (Cycling Australia, Athletics Australia, Swimming Australia, Triathlon Australia, and Rowing Australia) were contacted to participate. First, each sporting organization’s website was scoped, then semi-structured interviews were conducted online. One investigator transcribed each interview verbatim. Transcripts were analyzed for thematic content. Four of the sporting organizations provided little to no RED-S education. Rowing Australia delivered a program of RED-S content via an affiliated sports dietitian. The barriers identified for implementation of RED-S content were: limited time, resources, and coaches’ preexisting knowledge and beliefs. Based on these results, RED-S education is, indeed, lacking in some coach accreditation programs for endurance-based sporting organizations. Support for these organizations is required to overcome existing barriers and to facilitate inclusion of RED-S education within the coaching curriculum to support female athlete health.