Football & Periods: Winning Your Game, Every Day of the Month

So you’re lacing up your boots, the grass freshly cut, the football at your feet — and your period decides to join the game. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

It’s like your menstrual cycle has its own, unpredictable schedule, often syncing up with match days or intense training sessions. But hey, that’s just another opponent on the pitch, and we’re here to win, right?

I learned this the hard way during a tournament where cramps hit me mid-match. It was then I understood the power of tracking my cycle and adjusting my training accordingly. It’s not just about playing through the pain; it’s about playing smart.

Welcome to the universal club of playing football while navigating the ebbs and flows of your period. It’s a topic that’s as common as a penalty kick but discussed less often than an offside rule at a barbecue.

Well, we’re changing that narrative! Our mission? To kick the taboo into the next century and share the ultimate playbook for managing your menstrual cycle like the football pro you are.

From tweaking your diet for peak energy to mastering the art of rest and recovery (and maybe even using your cycle to your strategic advantage), we’ve got you covered.

So, grab your water bottle, and let’s dribble through those menstrual myths, tackle period discomfort, and score some game-changing tips together. Because in the grand league of life and football, your period shouldn’t sideline you. Let’s make it your secret weapon instead.

The Period Playbook: Understanding Your Cycle

Before we strategise our game plan, let’s get to know the playing field — your menstrual cycle.

Think of it as a monthly league, where each week brings its own set of challenges and strengths. Understanding these phases can help you anticipate the moves, making you a more formidable player both on and off the pitch.

Expert insights

“Sport is a place where judgement is rife, because we’re always judged on our performance… But this is not about women being weak or fragile — this is about everyone being in tune with their own body and doing what they need to get the best out of it.”

Emma Ross, formerly Head of Physiology at English Institute of Sport (EIS)

Phase 1: The Kickoff (Menstrual Phase)

The whistle blows, and the game starts. The menstrual phase begins on day 1 of your period and can last up to 7 days.

You might feel like you’re playing in defence, battling fatigue and cramps. It’s normal to feel less energetic, but don’t bench yourself just yet. Light training and stretching can actually help alleviate some discomfort.

Phase 2: Building Momentum (Follicular Phase)

As your period ends, you’re gathering pace. This phase leads up to ovulation, where estrogen levels rise, making you feel more energetic and focused.

It’s a great time to push your limits, work on new skills, or increase your training intensity. You’re in top form, so take advantage and score some goals!

Phase 3: Peak Performance (Ovulation)

You’re at the centre circle, ready to take the shot. Mid-cycle or ovulation is when many women feel their strongest and most energetic.

Use this time for high-intensity workouts, competitive matches, or challenging drills. Your body’s ready to perform at its peak, so take the lead and run with it.

Phase 4: Cooling Down (Luteal Phase)

After ovulation, you’re heading into the second half. Progesterone levels rise, which might slow you down a bit.

You could feel more fatigued or experience some pre-menstrual symptoms. Listen to your body — it’s okay to switch to lighter, more tactical training during this time. Focus on recovery and maintaining your gains.

Myth-Busting Facts!

  • Myth: You should avoid exercise on your period.
  • Busted: Not true! Engaging in light to moderate exercise can actually reduce period discomfort and boost your mood. Plus, hitting the field can increase endorphin levels, making it a natural pain reliever and mood lifter. So, don’t hang up your boots; modify your game plan instead!

Understanding your menstrual cycle is like having a game plan for each match. By knowing what to expect, you can adjust your training, nutrition, and recovery strategies to align with your body’s needs, ensuring you’re always playing your best game, no matter the phase of your cycle.

Menstrual Cycle Phases Training Tips

First Half: Nutrition & Hydration Tips

As any football player knows, what you put into your body directly impacts your performance on the pitch.

This is especially true when you’re managing your menstrual cycle. After a particularly exhausting game where I felt sluggish and unfocused, I revamped my diet, incorporating iron-rich foods and staying hydrated. The transformation was game-changing. Now, my pre-game meal is as strategic as my position on the field, tailored to where I am in my cycle.

Let’s tackle nutrition and hydration with the same strategy you’d use to conquer the first half of a match.

Expert insights

“The starting point is that we are women and, ultimately, we go through something very different to men on a monthly basis.”

Emma Hayes, Manager, Chelsea FC Women

Eating for Energy

During your cycle, your body’s needs can change, so it’s crucial to fuel up with the right foods. Here are some top picks that pack a nutritional punch and support menstrual health, alongside a couple of football-themed snacks to keep your energy levels high:

  • Quinoa Corner Kick: Packed with protein, fibre, and iron, quinoa is a fantastic energy booster. Try a quinoa salad bowl with your favorite greens, beans for extra iron, and a lemon-tahini dressing for a tangy kick. It’s a perfect pre-game meal that’s easy on the stomach and keeps you full and fuelled.
  • Half-Time Hummus and Veggies: Hummus is rich in iron and vitamin B, essential for energy during your period. Pair it with carrot and celery sticks for a crunch-time snack. It’s a great way to keep your energy up and perfect for sharing with your team during a break.
  • Goal-Scoring Granola Bars: Homemade granola bars with oats, nuts, and seeds are rich in magnesium and B vitamins, helping to reduce menstrual cramps and boost energy. Add in some dark chocolate chips for an antioxidant boost and a touch of sweetness. They’re easy to pack for a quick sideline snack.

Hydration Tactics

Staying hydrated is crucial, especially during your menstrual phase, when you might feel more fatigued. Here’s how to make hydration a key player in your routine:

  • Water Match Play: Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day, but let’s make it fun. Mark your water bottle with halftime markers and try to “score” by drinking to each line throughout the day.
  • Flavourful Free Kicks: Add slices of lemon, cucumber, or berries to your water for a refreshing twist. It’s a natural way to make staying hydrated more appealing and flavourful.
  • Electrolyte Extra Time: During heavy training days or if you’re experiencing heavy flow, consider an electrolyte-infused drink to replenish what you lose. Coconut water is a great natural option, or you can opt for a low-sugar sports drink. We also love making our own DIY electrolyte drinks!

By focusing on energy-boosting nutrition and innovative hydration tactics, you’ll be setting yourself up for success, ensuring that your body has everything it needs to perform at its best, no matter the phase of your menstrual cycle.

Second Half: Rest & Recovery Strategies

Just as the second half of a football match demands strategy and adaptation, so does managing your menstrual cycle.

It’s all about listening to your body and using recovery techniques that support your well-being throughout the entire cycle. Here’s how to keep your recovery game strong.

Listening to Your Body

Your body’s needs can vary significantly throughout your menstrual cycle. Some days you might feel like you could run for miles, while others, it might be a struggle to get off the sofa. And that’s okay! The key is to listen to your body and give it what it needs:

  • Rest Days: Don’t be afraid to schedule rest days into your training routine, especially during your menstrual phase when you might feel more tired. Think of rest days as strategic pauses, allowing your body to recover and come back stronger.
  • Sleep Goals: Sleep experts tell us to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep quality can affect your menstrual symptoms, mood, and overall performance. Consider it as important as any training session.

Recovery Techniques

Incorporating recovery techniques into your routine can help alleviate menstrual symptoms and improve your performance. Here are some fun and effective ways to recover:

  • Yoga Offside Trap: Try incorporating yoga into your recovery days. Focus on poses that help relieve menstrual discomfort, like child’s pose or cat-cow. Think of it as playing an attacking trap on cramps and fatigue — a strategic move to keep discomfort at bay.
  • Foam Rolling Freekick: Foam rolling can be a game-changer, especially for sore muscles. Spend some time rolling out your legs, back, and arms. It’s like giving yourself a free kick towards recovery, easing muscle tension and improving mobility.
  • Cool Down with a Twist: After intense workouts or matches, ensure you cool down properly. Add a playful twist to your cool-down routine with dynamic stretches or dance moves to your favourite songs. It’s a fun way to end your training session on a high note, keeping your muscles loose and your spirit lifted.

Embracing these rest and recovery strategies is like having a solid defence line in football. By listening to your body and incorporating gentle, restorative practices, you’re setting yourself up for long-term health, wellness, and performance on the pitch. Remember, recovery is not just a halftime break; it’s a crucial part of your overall game plan.

Watch & Learn: Yoga When You’re On Your Period

I fell in love with Yoga with Adrienne during the pandemic, her soothing voice helps you instantly chillax! Here’s a great, short yoga flow that’s great for when you’re on your period and feeling ick.

Extra Time: Game-Changing Period-Proof Gear

Of course, feeling at the top of our game is all about equipping ourselves with the right tools to tackle one of the most natural challenges athletes face: managing menstrual cycles.

Here’s a straight-up guide to the game-changing gear that’s making waves in the world of women’s football, ensuring you stay comfortable, confident, and focused on scoring goals, not worrying about leaks.

Leak-Proof Champions

Menstrual Cups: These reusable wonders are a player’s best friend on and off the pitch, offering up to 12 hours of leak-free protection. They’re discreet, eco-friendly, and once you get the hang of them, you’ll wonder how you ever did without.

The discovery of menstrual cups was my off-the-field victory that had a profound impact on my performance. I remember the first game I played without worrying about leaks or discomfort, feeling liberated and fully focused on the game. It was a revelation.

Period-Proof Underwear: Imagine playing a full 90 minutes or even going into extra time, all while being fully supported by these MVPs of the menstrual gear world. They come in various absorbencies, fitting seamlessly into your football attire as a reliable defence against leaks. These are also a popular option in our team – tampons can become uncomfortable when you’re sprinting up and down the pitch.

Absorbent All-Stars

Athletic Liners and Pads: Specially designed for active individuals, these are the agile midfielders of menstrual gear, offering protection that moves with you, no matter how quick your footwork or how sudden your sprints.

How to play soccer on your period pad

The Locker Room Talk: Support and Openness

Open communication with your coach and teammates about menstrual health can foster a supportive environment that recognises the need for adaptable training regimes. Here’s how to promote teamwork:

Educate Your Team: Share knowledge about how the menstrual cycle can impact performance. The more your team understands, the more supportive the environment will be.

Speak Up: Don’t hesitate to discuss your needs with your coach. A good coach will appreciate your proactive approach and work with you to adjust your training schedule accordingly.

Collaborative Planning: Work together with your coach to plan training sessions that align with your cycle. This could mean lighter sessions during your menstrual phase and more intense sessions when you’re feeling energetic.

Support Each Other: Encourage your teammates to be open about their experiences and needs. Foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable discussing and adjusting training based on their menstrual cycle.

USA womens team world cup soccer

Period Progress: Changing the Game in Women’s Football

Kicking Taboos Off the Pitch

Who says you can’t tackle menstrual cycles and football at the same time? The game is changing, folks!

Gone are the days when the topic of periods was hushed up quicker than a bad call by the ref. Now, we’re seeing some real moves towards smashing those taboos and making the football pitch a place where everyone can feel comfortable and focused, no matter the time of the month.

The Lionesses Lead the Pack

First up, let’s hear it for the Lionesses! Swapping white shorts for blue, they’re not just scoring goals but making bold statements too. It’s more than a fashion choice; it’s about feeling secure and smashing stigmas. High five, team!

Nike Invents ‘Leak Protection’

Nike has introduced the Nike Leak Protection: Period innovation, integrating it into their Pro shorts, following feedback from athletes.

This feature aims to provide confidence for female football players by addressing concerns over menstrual leakage during games.

Alongside this, Nike also offers its latest bra designs, allowing athletes to choose their preferred style and support level, further customising their comfort and performance gear. Way to go Nike!

Chelsea’s Clever Coaching

And how about Chelsea FC Women, with their tech-savvy approach to training? By syncing workouts with the menstrual cycle, they’re not just playing football; they’re playing smart.

With the help of the FitrWoman app, they’re tailoring nutrition, rest, and exercise to keep performance at its peak. It’s innovation at its finest, proving that understanding our bodies is the ultimate game-changer.

The USWNT’s Winning Strategy

Not to be outdone, the U.S. Women’s National Team is also on the forefront, using cycle tracking to boost their game in 2019 – the very year they won the World Cup!

It’s all about eating right, sleeping tight, and staying bright. With every cycle tracked, they’re not just chasing the ball; they’re chasing victory, period!

The Future Looks Bright

So, what’s the takeaway from all this game-changing progress? It’s clear the world of women’s football is stepping up its game, making sure that periods are no longer an opponent to be feared but an aspect of life that can be managed with ease.

With teams around the globe taking steps to support menstrual health, it’s not just a win for football, but a win for athletes everywhere.

The Final Score

As we approach the final whistle of our journey together, it’s clear that understanding and managing our menstrual cycle isn’t just about navigating a challenge—it’s about unlocking a new level of performance and well-being.

Your menstrual cycle holds key insights into your body’s rhythm, offering clues on when you’ll be at your peak strength and when it’s time to focus on recovery and tactical training.

Like a seasoned coach reading the game, learning to read your cycle allows you to make real-time adjustments that enhance your performance.

Now, over to you. This is your call to action to share the wealth of knowledge that comes from personal experience. Which products have you found indispensable during your cycle? How have they changed the way you approach game day?

Let’s create a community playbook of the best period-proof gear, backed by real athlete endorsements. Your insights could be the game-changer a fellow player needs.

So, let’s keep the conversation going, sharing tips and experiences that help us all stay focused on the win, period or not. It’s all about making those extra minutes count, equipped with the right gear to play our best game.

Found the football gear that scores just right for you? We’re excited to see it in action! Tag us on Instagram @kitqueensoccer or Facebook and share your top football tips with our community. For more insights and updates on the latest in football gear, check out our Football Gear Reviews.

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Our Research & Review Process

At KitQueen, our goal is to bring you the most comprehensive and trustworthy recommendations in the world of football.

We’re not just spectators; we’re players in the research game. We study the latest scientific findings and football journals to give you insights grounded in solid evidence. But it’s not all about the stats and data. We also gather real-life experiences and opinions from football enthusiasts, coaches, professional bodies and of course, actual players.

Our hands-on approach extends to the field. We don’t just read about football gear; we test it. We try out boots, shirts, and equipment on the pitch, assessing their performance in real match conditions across various playing styles and skill levels.

This detailed and active approach allows us to kick you the truth about which products really live up to their hype.

Remember, the right gear can make a significant difference in your game. But always consider personal preferences and playing style before making your choice.

This article was written & reviewed by

  • Mia Johnson, Fitness Expert & Football Coach

    Hello! I'm Mia, a high school Physical Education teacher in Surrey, UK by day and a football blog contributor by night. My journey with football began just like any other enthusiastic player - on a local field, chasing after a ball and dreaming big. Football became my way to teach, inspire, and connect with others. In the classroom (and on the field), I'm all about promoting fitness, teamwork, and the pure joy of sports. Writing for the blog lets me extend this passion to a wider audience....

  • Anna Adams, Creative Director & Content Lead

    Hi there! I'm Anna Adams, your go-to source for all things women's football. I've been crazy about football for over 20 years, ever since I was kicking a ball around with my brothers as a kid. I've turned my passion into a career where I get to share all the cool stuff about football with you. As a content lead, I've had the awesome opportunity to work with various sports brands and publications. Whether it's the latest gear, pro tips, or just some cool football trivia, I'm all about making f...