Why sports kit should be fit for purpose

Kathryn Shuttleworth, managing director of David Luke Schoolwear, says whether it’s competitive or for social pleasure, sports should be enjoyed by all and not avoided due to uncomfortable kit

Many sportswear brands place kudos on ‘being the best’: ultimate performance and exclusivity. But for our children, who are exposed to increasing levels of perfection pressure on social media, the freedom to just ‘have a go’ at sports is fast becoming eclipsed by the fear of not being good enough. 

Raising kids with a positive body image, high self-esteem and the desire to participate in sports even if they’re not going to be the best is one of the most vital challenges we face as providers of school sportswear in the UK.

As a leading manufacturer of schoolwear and sportswear, I feel it’s our duty to promote achievable body confidence images through our own marketing and the product itself. One that champions diversity and inclusiveness whatever size, gender, situation or activity.

Within the market, we have two extremes when it comes to school sports kit. At one end of the scale, you’ll find a basic PE kit that looks like it’s jogged out of the ’80s. Wearing it can make children feel exposed and vulnerable. Especially if sport isn’t their first passion. Then we see instances where schools choose very aspirational brands because they want their teams to portray elitism which can result in pupils feeling alienated.

Raising kids with a positive body image, high self-esteem and the desire to participate in sports even if they’re not going to be the best is one of the most vital challenges we face as providers of school sportswear in the UK 

We come from the belief that positive performance can be achieved through participation. The philosophy behind our new sportswear brand, Juco, is that we believe all young people should be able to enjoy being active. We want them to feel happy, healthy and confident, so we have expertly developed our range to make them look and feel great while they move.

Sarie Taylor is a qualified psychotherapist and specialist anxiety coach, and founder of Coaching Healthy Minds. She believes that a child’s self-esteem and confidence stems from their beliefs about themselves, and how they see the world around them, whilst comparing their world to others.

She says: “Comparison can often lead to insecurity. It’s important that we encourage young people, regardless of skill level or experience, to realise that we are all OK exactly as we are. Life is not about striving for perfection, but to enjoy every moment that we can, taking part in life fully and unconditionally.”

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Encouraging our children to appreciate their bodies for what they can do is a healthy step in the right direction. 

We need to tell our children that when they play a sport, walk, run, dance, swim – that’s your body in action. Simplifying the message and encouraging acceptance from within is a theory that Taylor supports.

She continues: “Stress and anxiety in children and teens does not come from external factors but comes from their thoughts and how they perceive any situation. Everything is experienced through their own eyes, which highlights the importance of inclusivity and acceptance of all of us, no exceptions. Help a child to understand their thoughts, and that they are different to beliefs and truths, helping them see a way of being as important in their own eyes as the next person, and they will flourish despite the ups and downs of life.”

The companyʼs new sportswear brand, Juco

It’s critical that we don’t discourage children from enjoying the simple pleasures of PE and school sports because their kit made them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. We tracked the movements of young people when designing Juco to see where the pressure points are during instances of physical exertion. Basing our designs on the realistic movements of teens and taking into consideration any hang-ups they might be experiencing at their stage of life has enabled us to design sportswear with a brilliant fit that is relevant to today’s market.

We’ve all got a sport spark within us. For some it’s excellence and others, it might be social pleasure. Wherever our children benchmark, they deserve to discover the joy of sport and feel like their sports kit is fit for purpose.

To find out more about David Luke Schoolwear, visit their website: www.davidluke.com 

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