The physical profile of an athlete can distinguish between elite and non-elite status, independent of technical ability. Elite athletes are clearly identifiable in adolescence by higher levels of endurance and greater speed. A sizeable body of research continues to validate this hypothesis, however most of it is concentrated on male athletes. In professional soccer, little is known about the physical profile of female athletes, so when we came across a study in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport we though that it was worth sharing.
A cross-section of 141 women were on a professional soccer trial. The women were assessed for speed (0-35m) where speed was measured at set distance intervals e.g. 5m, 10m, 20m.
In short, the results show mean speed of 22-26km.hr-1 over the first 15-20m sprinting, while mean speed over 35m was 27km.hr-1 with maximum values exceeding 30km.hr-1. The key finding however, is that despite tight ranges observed in mean speeds, the drafted players were distinguishable by their superior speed to non-drafted players in almost all distances. This study therefore emphasises the importance of speed to soccer coaches in player selection at professional level.