Five Training Considerations for Female Athletes

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Female athletes are not small men, and this should be one of our key considerations when entering a high performance program. 

The growth of Female participation in sport has skyrocketed over the past 5 years, now more than ever we need to acknowledge the importance of high-performance training and the benefit it has in female athletes.

Female Athlete

Here are five key training considerations for female athletes.

1. Training Age 

The training age is effectively the amount of time an athlete has undertaken strength and conditioning base training.

Typically Male athletes have had a higher training age for quite some time, with most junior programs implementing strength training and speed work from as young as 13. Compared to female athletes who start later in their development stages. 

Data suggests that training experiences, access to specialised training and females entering sport less conditioned are factors to be considered when looking at initial strength measures between females and males.

Female athletes now have more opportunities across more sports to go into a part time to full time job. With increasing performance and volume load within different sporting codes, the importance of physical preparation to manage these loads is crucial in maximising their performance and prevention of unwanted injuries.

2. Menstrual Cycle 

Every female athlete at some point in their lives will experience their menstrual cycle. It is common for females to have disruptions with their cycle and some may experience irregular cycles or have more complications than others.

If we compare hormonal experiences between males and females. Males can experience the effects of testosterone daily, whereas females experience it every 23-35 days.

How does this affect training and high performance?

Well, the blood loss during the menstrual phase (PERIOD) isn’t enough to alter performance too much. However, the side effects and how our athletes are feeling needs to be acknowledged prior to training. 

Female Athlete Training

Female athletes may experience: 

  • Heavy blood flow especially in their first 2 days of cycle 
  • Lower back pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headaches 
  • Stomach cramps (that don’t just go away) 
  • Disturbed Sleep 
  • Often can have mood changes such as anxiety, sad, irritable, depressed, self-critical 
  • Menstrual cycle abnormalities (such as no period, Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) 

3. RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency) in Sport

A short break down is when an athlete both female and male have low energy availability which makes it harder for our body to power through basic functions. Female athletes may have disturbances to their menstrual cycle, musculoskeletal health, cardiovascular health, growth, and development. 

When we look at the above, any disruption to these factors can negatively impact the female athletes performance in training and competition.

4. Injury 

With the increased participation rate in female sport, we have now started noticing the injury rate. The answer is YES, females are more likely to get injured while playing sport.

Females will incur a higher rate on stress fractures, shoulder (subluxation & dislocation), patellar femoral pain, ankle sprains and of course the dreaded ACL. Which too often we hear about in injury reports and in the media.

Over use injuries are also more common in females and can be linked back to low energy, menstrual cycle and also delayed first menstrual cycle – common in female athletes who have started training high volume from an early age. 

Females in contact, jumping and cutting sports are 4-6 times more likely to seriously injure their knee.

5. Coaching Style 

Acknowledging that not every athlete in your team is at the same level is important in coaching female athletes, as is being able to adjust your coaching style depending on the individual.

Compared to male athletes, personal goals and individual/team standards bring confidence to females. 

Females are great at communicating and building close relationships with both their team mates and coaches. However, quite often females feel as though they are not consistent in their performance and lose confidence quite easily if the team or their own performance isn’t good enough. 

Through out the development of female sport the grey cloud of Sexual Harassment has remained a big issue.  This can come directly from the coaching staff (something that I have witnessed), the crowd, and the key board warrior presenting the pressure from online social media. 

Knowing and understanding how the female athlete responds to what style of coaching, and understanding all the above factors are needed to progress the future of our female athletes.

Want To Know More

If you would like to know more or you’re a female athlete looking for a performance coach and environment to train in, please contact our Strength & Conditioning Coach Shona O’Connell-Shea to book in a session.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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