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Athletic Skorts and Self-esteem’s Effect on Performance

July 13, 2011

Dunbar High School girls’ track team won the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association outdoor championships this past May by a lead of 133 points.  They attribute to their improvements over a modest season to a change in their uniform–namely a skort consisting of a black skirt over fitted running shorts.

“You look good, you run good,” a co-captain of the team, told the Washington Post. “It makes you feel different when you’re out on the track, like no one can come get you.”

The new attire was custom designed by LightningFitnessWear on the advice of coach Marvin Parker, who came up with the idea after watching a girl false start due to boys behind her on the track making her feel self-conscious.  He was also inspired by watching a video of tennis legend Althea Gibson wipe out the courts at the world tour while wearing a traditional white skirt.

Can a change in attire really be that effective?  Or was this win just a coincidence with the introduction of the skorts?

Studies on positive self-esteem and types of performance seem to vary with most finding correlations but not causations.  One study says high self-esteem of student is correlated with good grades but is definitely not causation.  A different study says that high self-esteem can predict higher job performance and satisfaction, but the study does not address causation.  A study that focused on athletics found “higher self esteem was associated with better athletic performance” but noted that it could not be certain of causation.  And, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t find any studies that specifically focused on athletics and uniform aesthetics.

The skorts were no cheap investment; the team raised $1500 for 30 pairs of the skorts.  But considering their recent massive win, the girls seem to be happy with the results.


Athletic Skorts are available on Amazon with a price range of about $25-$50.

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