The PCA Blog

Webinar Recap: What Our Bodies Experience in Sport: Appreciating Our Unique Bodies

In our ongoing collaboration with Dove BODY CONFIDENT SPORT—a groundbreaking Online Coaching Program developed in partnership with Nike—we recently conducted the second session of our three-part webinar series. This initiative aims to empower coaches and foster body confidence in girls globally, transcending conventional standards and focusing on what bodies can do, rather than what they look like.  

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In this insightful session, our esteemed panelists—Olympian Gymnast and Beam Queen CEO Sam Peszek, 2x Olympic Medalist Natasha Watley, USTA Head of Women’s Tennis Kathy Rinaldi, and Psychology Professor and Body Image Expert Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs—guided us through a conversation for coaches and leaders on helping athletes embrace their unique abilities and be attuned to their bodies' needs during sports. The overarching theme of the webinar was the power of shifting athletes' focus from external appearance to what their bodies can do. By emphasizing this shift, coaches can foster an environment where athletes accept and appreciate their diverse abilities.  Here are some key takeaways for coaches and caring adults from the “What Our Bodies Experience in Sport: Appreciating our Unique Bodies” webinar:

  • A strong connection to body functionality goes beyond aesthetics; it directly influences an athlete's overall sports performance and enjoyment. By focusing on and appreciating what their bodies can do, athletes unlock a new dimension of potential. Whether it's mastering a skill, pushing physical limits, or experiencing the joy of movement, athletes who embrace body functionality find a deeper satisfaction in their sporting endeavors.
  • Coaches can help athletes shift their mindset from appearance to functional capabilities by redefining success as the mastery of skills, the joy of movement, and the celebration of progress to individuals’ unique goals.  The societal pressure on girls to conform to appearance standards is undeniable. Our panelists shared insights on how athletes can shift their mindset from appearance and break free from the constraints of external judgments and discover a more fulfilling sports experience.
  • Positive Body Confidence involves helping athletes develop a deeper understanding of their bodies' unique strengths and limitations. This knowledge contributes to better decision-making on the field or arena, fostering a sense of self-awareness that transcends the boundaries of sports and enriches the athletes' lives.
  • Encouraging healthy competition and celebrating individual progress to help avoid body comparison. Body comparison is a common challenge, especially among female athletes. Our panelists addressed the delicate balance between competition and self-celebration. They provided insights into how coaches and parents can encourage healthy competition by emphasizing individual progress and unique capabilities. By fostering an environment where athletes celebrate their own achievements without constant comparison, a positive sporting culture emerges.
  • Appreciation of body functionality is a cornerstone for building athlete resilience and mental toughness. In the face of challenges and setbacks—inevitable in both sports and life—athletes who appreciate what their bodies can do are better equipped to navigate adversity. This positive mindset becomes a source of strength, enabling them to bounce back, learn from experiences, and approach future challenges with greater resilience.

Coaches play a pivotal role in instilling a sense of acceptance and appreciation in athletes. The webinar emphasized the importance of cultivating an environment that encourages athletes to value their bodies for their functionality and unique capabilities, rather than how they look. By acknowledging and praising what athletes' bodies can do and how it makes them feel, coaches can contribute to building positive body image and confidence in female athletes. 

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Meet the Panelists

Sam Peszek
Olympian Gymnast, Broadcaster, Founder & CEO of Beam Queen

Samantha Peszek is a 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist, 2007 World Championships Gold Medalist, three-time NCAA Champion & 17-time All American for UCLA.  She is now a broadcaster for the NCAA and the founder and CEO of Beam Queen– a camp and community where she helps young gymnasts gain confidence through understanding the balance beam.

Natasha Watley
2x Olympic Medalist-USA Softball; UCLA HOF; MLB Softball Ambassador

Natasha Watley is a two–time Olympic Medalist, three-time World Champion, and the driving force behind the Natasha Watley Foundation, a community service nonprofit dedicated to introducing softball to the girls of the nation’s inner cities. More than simply teaching young women how to play the sport, her organization provides a positive alternative to the daily struggles faced by many girls in low-income households.

As a Four-time All American, Natasha joined the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame after leading the Bruins to four straight Women’s College World Series and the NCAA Division 1 Softball Championship title in 2003. In 2004, Natasha played with America’s Olympic team, taking home a gold medal. In 2008, she competed again, winning a silver medal. When softball was removed from the Olympics after the 2008 games, she competed professionally with USSSA Pride and moved to Japan to continue competing. In her 8 years in Japan, she won 5 championships as a member of the Toyota Women’s Softball Team, a part of the Japan Softball League. Now in her 15th season, she is currently a technical coach for Team Toyota, and an MLB softball Ambassador. Recently Watley created Game Changers an online resource for triple threats as well as starting her own travel ball organization, Watley Crew.

Kathy Rinaldi
USTA Player Development, Head of Women's Tennis

Kathy Rinaldi embarked on her professional tennis career at the age of 14, quickly rising to become a former Top 10 Professional Tennis Player in both Singles and Doubles. Her remarkable journey includes reaching the semifinals of all Grand Slam events in Singles, Doubles, or Mixed categories. Serving as the USTA Lead National Coach from 2013 to 2017, she continued to make significant contributions as the USTA Head of Women’s Tennis from 2018 to the present. Kathy was named the 2011 National Coach of the Year, inducted into the Florida Tennis Hall of Fame, and received The International Tennis Hall of Fame Service Award in 2014. Kathy further solidified her legacy as the US BJK Cup Captain from 2017 to 2023 and assumed the role of Olympic Head Coach for the 2020 Tokyo and 2024 Paris Games. Beyond her professional accomplishments, Kathy takes pride in her roles as a devoted wife and mother.

Phillippa Diedrichs, PhD
Professor of Psychology, Body Image and Mental Health Expert

Professor Phillippa Diedrichs is an award-winning researcher and consultant known internationally for developing and evaluating evidence-based strategies to improve body image and mental health in digital, community, corporate, and policy settings. With a PhD in Health Psychology from The University of Queensland, she is a Professor of Psychology at the world leading Centre for Appearance Research, University of the West of England. She is also the founder of EVERYBODY Consulting, a global team of social scientist experts who consult with powerhouse organizations, including Dove, Nike and Instagram, to disrupt beauty and gender norms, and create more equitable societies.

Phillippa has published over 70 peer-reviewed studies investigating body image, appearance diversity, and mental health. Her research has featured in the New York Times, BBC, Forbes, Time, Vogue, and teaching case studies at Harvard Business School and School of Public Health. The evidence-based digital and face-to-face interventions and campaigns she has helped to create have been delivered to over 100 million young people in 148 countries, in partnership with leading social-purpose driven brands and organizations.

Moderator: Marti Reed
Director of National Partnerships & DEI Programming Manager, PCA

Marti Reed is the Director of National Partnerships & DEI Programming Manager for PCA. She originally joined PCA in 2014 with the Los Angeles Chapter working as a Partnership Manager to grow the movement with local schools and youth sports organizations. Marti transitioned into a Development Manager role for Southern California in 2017, allowing her to start the LA Chapter Leadership Council and help implement PCA's Pro Team partnerships in the area. In 2019, she assumed the role of National Partnerships and Marketing Manager, then Director of National Partnerships & DEI Programming Manager in 2021. In this capacity, Marti supports all national and corporate partners throughout the country, and also led the launch of PCA’s Sports Can Battle Racism initiative. Marti has been featured on CBS, ESPN Around the Horn, and ABC 7, using her voice to help educate coaches and leaders with the tools needed to foster a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion through sports. Marti has separated herself as one of PCA's best trainers, presenting at live workshops for coaches, parents, and athletes throughout the country.