Here’s something you may not have known: Up to 45% of girls are likely to quit sports before age 14. Low body confidence is the leading factor, and it’s why Dove and Nike are addressing this issue with an incredible new tool: the Body Confident Sport coaching program.

The program aims to equip trainers, coaches, and fitness educators with the necessary framework to better support their athletes. In fact, 83% of girls in the US attribute their confidence to the support and guidance from their coaches.

As a coach and personal trainer myself, I frequently encounter clients at a crossroads in their lives. By the time they reach me, they’ve had a range of experiences that have shaped their relationship with their bodies. I’ve observed how training, movement, and coaching can support a greater sense of ease and well-being, regardless of their goals.

This is why the event I attended at Nike Headquarters in NYC last week resonated so deeply with me. I was among 150 women worldwide who attended the launch of this groundbreaking initiative. This collaborative effort by Dove and Nike aims to shift the focus from “What does my body look like?” to “What can my body enable me to do and experience?” The Body Confident Sport coaching tool also raises awareness about social media’s impact on how young girls perceive appearances and its influence on their lives.

Val Desjardins

The Body Confident Sport coaching program is a result of collaborative work between two data-driven institutions: the Centre for Appearance Research (CAR) and the Tucker Center. Both organizations have dedicated resources to understanding body image’s impact on socialization and mental health, especially in athletics. They played a key role in designing the evidence-based tools and workbooks central to the coaching program. Experts and ambassadors like Dr. Emilie Matheson, Dr. Philippa Diedrichs, and Dr. Nicole Lavoi also shared crucial findings at the event.

The roster of guests on site at the Nike headquarters echoed so many of the statistics and academic findings that are at the root of this initiative. Prominent athletes like tennis icon Venus Williams and Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez all shared snippets of their own experiences as high-profile individuals who are deeply entrenched in the world of athleticism. Like so many others in the room, their testimonials left me with a sense of urgency and a desire for change for the generation to come.


Beyond shaping our self-image, sports teach essential lessons about collaboration, leadership, and contributing to a collective mission. These life lessons extend far beyond athletics, and future generations will miss out if we fail to keep girls engaged in sports in the years ahead. The self-confidence and experiences they gain as girls are pivotal to their success and opportunities as women, and that’s why initiatives like the Body Confident Sport program are so important.