Empowering Young Women Through Body Confidence in Sports

Here is a new project to applaud. Empowering Young Women Through Body Confidence in Sports Project, Keep Her Confident Campaign from Nike and Dove.

Recent findings have shed light on an alarming trend: nearly half of all teenage girls worldwide abandon sports during their adolescent years. Tragically, the majority point to body image issues as the culprit. But a solution is at hand thanks to a groundbreaking partnership between global giants Dove and Nike.

Dove is renowned for its commitment to promoting self-esteem and body positivity. It has joined forces with Nike, the world’s leading sports brand, to unveil the “Body Confident Sport” online coaching initiative. Tailored for girls aged 11-17, the program is grounded in scientific research and aims to bolster body confidence through unique coaching tools.

Sports can be a double-edged sword for young women. While it offers an avenue for excellence, it also subjects them to undue pressures related to their appearance. This venture with Dove is a step forward in reshaping these narratives, pivoting the focus from how they look to what they can achieve.

Venus Williams

The importance of positive role models in sports cannot be overstated. Most US-based young female athletes credit their coaches for boosting their self-confidence. The Body Confident Sport initiative, which took two years to develop, seeks to tap into this influence. Collaborating with esteemed entities like the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) and the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, the initiative shines a spotlight on the sports world’s role in shaping a girl’s self-worth.

In collaboration with Dove, tennis legend Venus Williams voiced her support: “Sports can be a double-edged sword for young women. While it offers an avenue for excellence, it also subjects them to undue pressures related to their appearance. This venture with Dove is a step forward in reshaping these narratives, pivoting the focus from how they look to what they can achieve.”

Sports can be transformative for young girls, instilling lifetime confidence. It’s our collective duty to ensure these spaces remain inclusive.

Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez

However, the road ahead is challenging. Research from Dove and Nike unveils grim statistics: 48% of American girls quit sports after being told they don’t fit the ‘athlete mold,’ while over half feel they’re not good enough.

But hope persists. With its evidence-backed approach to reducing self-objectification and boosting body esteem, the Body Confident Sport online coaching tool is set to launch globally in schools and sports clubs. With the combined strength of Dove and Nike behind it, the goal is to reach over a million young minds.

Alessandro Manfredi, CMO of Dove, emphasizes the brand’s unwavering commitment to fostering self-worth among the youth. “Sports can be an incredible confidence-builder. However, young girls often find their self-esteem under attack in these very spaces. Teaming up with Nike, we’re striving for a future where girls everywhere can enjoy sports free from judgment.”

Vanessa Garcia-Brito of Nike echoed this sentiment, highlighting the collective goal: to change how society views young female athletes, celebrating what their bodies can achieve, not just how they appear.

For more details or to join the Body Confident Sport program, visit bodyconfidentsport.com

Notes from the Event

Nike believes coaching is critical to the future of sport. As you know, we aren’t a brand that generally partners with other brands, but this is so important to us that we partnered with another brand, Dove, to launch Body Confident Sport, a first-of-its-kind, evidence-based set of coaching tools to build body confidence in 11–17-year-old girls. It’s available on bodyconfidentsport.com and provides coaches with the materials to tailor their coaching to inspire body confidence and set girls up for success.

Body Confident Sport was co-developed by Dove and Nike over two years in partnership with world-renowned experts – including the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) and the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport – and includes input from girls and coaches from 6 countries, including France, India, Japan, Mexico, the U.K., and the U.S.

Did you know that?

Nike was founded by a Coach, Bill Bowerman, and an Athlete, Phil Knight. Commitment to coaching and listening to the athlete’s voice are in Nike’s DNA. Inspired by this, Nike has been committed to leveling the playing field and expanding access to sports for everyone. 

Research shows that only one in five kids worldwide can access the physical activity they need to thrive. Girls and Kids in historically underserved communities face more challenges in getting and staying active. Quality coaching plays a significant role in keeping kids engaged in sports. In nurturing good, robust, positive coaching, Nike is committing to growing its coaching network.

Other initiatives Nike has led in Coaching

Nike became a founding partner of The Center for Healing and Justice Through Sport, a community of coaches, sports experts, psychologists, scientists, and strategists who believe in making sports healing for all youth through training, consulting, and movement building. In partnership with CHJS, Nike created the Made to Play Coaching Girls Guide, a free, open-source guide that equips coaches and other caring adults with tools that can help make sport fun for girls. With more input from CHJS and other partners, Nike also created a free playbook called Coaching for Belonging, a guide to creating an inclusive play and sports environment to help kids across all identities and backgrounds feel like they belong.

Since 2018, CHJS has worked with Nike to train and grow coaching confidence for the Nike Community Ambassador (NCA) program. After receiving training from CHJS, Nike store employees share their love of sports with their communities, get kids playing and moving, and inspire them to be active for life. Nike also works with CHJS to train our Made to Play North America nonprofit partners.

In addition to Nike’s work with CJHS to support coaching, Nike has also created resources to equip coaches and other caring adults with the tools to make sports fun for kids. In 2022, Nike shared best practices and tools with more than 17,000 coaches and helped directly train more than 9,000 of them.

These tools can be found here:

Made to Play Belonging Guide

Coaching Girls Guide

Thanks to Nike

More than 375,000 girls accessed play and sport through Nike partners’ diverse programs, and more than 17,000 coaches were equipped with the resources to create more inclusive experiences for kids. Nike invested $149 million — representing 2.24 percent of the company’s prior year’s pre-tax income — in communities worldwide, focusing on women and girls and Nike’s Black Community Commitment.


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