Professional Female Sport is getting more and more airtime as participation grows, sponsor revenue grows and the professionalism increases at a rapid rate.

Leagues in Australia such as – Suncorp Super Netball, AFLW, NRLW, W-League & Super W are expecting not only more professionalism from their players, but also from the support staff – especially those in Physical Preparation/Strength & Conditioning departments.

With an increase in university and field-based studies, professionals in the S&C Field are able to better prepare their female athlete’s not only for the demands of their sport, but also prepare them based on their relevant physiology

Stating the obvious Males and Females and their physiology have some key differences. One being that females have a menstrual cycle and males don’t.

This subject will be the basis of the blog today and how it can be a key consideration, but also a distraction in the physical preparationof f the female athlete,

Throughout the menstrual cycle females have variable levels of Oestrogen and Progesterone which affect they way that these athletes breakdown and use macronutrients as fuel sources, altered sleep (quality and quantity), change in mood, increase

inflammation, increase appetite, cognitive function, temperature increase and the list goes on. However, all these need to be taken into consideration when developing a physical preparation plan for our athletes.

One trend that has started to occur due to popularity is the developing of training programs based on where the female athlete is currently at in their menstrual cycle. For example During Phase 2 (+7-10 menstruation) a female athlete can express strength at a higher level, will be more positive and may be more prone to Change of Direction Injuries.

Programming for these factors will “optimise” the training session for the athlete. If we are programming heavy load through this week (compared to other weeks) we may create a spike in arbitrary load statistics. Also, if we neglect both high speed & aggressive change of direction due to increase in joint laxity during this phase, we aren’t preparing the athlete for match day while playing while in Phase 2.

While the evidence is growing around the difference between training a female athlete and a male athlete the effectiveness of the findings and incorporation into female sport is going to be judged by the effectiveness of the implementation from the coaches themselves.

Chopping and changing from different programs and program focus week to week, while it may suit the current physiology of the female athlete for THE training session, won’t prepare them for the demands and rigours of the sport.

Instead look at prioritising structured warm ups & activations relevant to the female athletes phase, focus on pre & post nutritional strategies and develop a structured, relevant and progressive physical preparation program.

If you are female athlete and want some more advice on how to training more effectively as a female please reach out to Rod Blackbourn Managing Director & Exercise Physiologist at rod@axisperformance.com.au