Is Puberty Affecting Your Athletics?

Puberty brings physical changes that might temporarily affect your game. But don’t go from player to spectator! Just change your strategy.

“I have a killer volleyball serve, but I also have killer cramps. Ugh.”
Cramps can really cramp your style. But did you know that exercise can help alleviate cramps? Before hitting the court, talk to your mom or doctor about over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, which are known to take the edge off the pain. A heating pad or hot water bottle can help too. If your cramps are unbearable, be honest with yourself and your coach -- you won’t be much of an asset if you’re in excruciating pain.

“Help! My boobs seem to be running their own race during track and field.”
It’s hard to focus on mastering your 100-meter sprint when your boobs are bouncing. A good sports bra is crucial, as breast tissue is sensitive -- especially during puberty. A sports bra not only keeps breasts contained, but it also provides coverage to shake self-consciousness. Enlist the help of your mom or big sis, and get measured at a professional fitting. A wrong-size bra can be more distracting than going braless.

“My swim meet is next week, and my period is due. Will I be able to compete?”
In some sports, using a tampon versus a pad is a personal decision. Many maxi-pads now come in slender versions, and some have “wings” that secure them to undies. But swimmers have no choice: Fact is, if you’re not willing to use a tampon, you won’t be swimming in the meet. It’s also difficult for dancers, skaters and cheerleaders to wear pads -- hello, leotards! If you’ve never used a tampon, simple instructions are included in the box to get you started. Or run the issue by your mom, aunt, school nurse or gynecologist.

“My gymnastics floor routine has been tripping me up ever since a growth spurt.”
When you grow several inches in a short time, it can throw you off. And because your limbs grow faster than your trunk, it’s not unusual to feel like you’re losing a little coordination. Weight gain is also a very normal part of growing up, so don’t freak if you’re a bit thicker in your upper arms, thighs, hips and back. If this is you, embrace your new curviness!