Sports Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 1225–1240

Applied Physiology of Female Soccer: An Update


    • The English Football Association
    • Research Institute of Sport SciencesLiverpool John Moores University
  • Andrew Hulton
    • Research Institute of Sport SciencesLiverpool John Moores University
  • Helena Andersson
    • The Swedish Football Association
  • Tracy Lewis
    • The English Football Association
  • Matthew Weston
    • School of Social Sciences and LawTeesside University
  • Barry Drust
    • Research Institute of Sport SciencesLiverpool John Moores University
  • Warren Gregson
    • Research Institute of Sport SciencesLiverpool John Moores University
    • ASPIRE, Academy for Sports Excellence
Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s40279-014-0199-1

Cite this article as:
Datson, N., Hulton, A., Andersson, H. et al. Sports Med (2014) 44: 1225. doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0199-1


The popularity and professionalism of female soccer has increased markedly in recent years, with elite players now employed on either a professional or semi-professional basis. The previous review of the physiological demands of female soccer was undertaken two decades ago when the sport was in its relative infancy. Increased research coupled with greater training and competition demands warrants an updated review to consider the effect on physical performance and injury patterns. The physical demands of match-play along with the influence of factors such as the standard of competition, playing position and fatigue have been explored. Total distance covered for elite female players is approximately 10 km, with 1.7 km completed at high-speed (>18 km·h−1). Elite players complete 28 % more high-speed running and 24 % more sprinting than moderate-level players. Decrements in high-speed running distance have been reported between and within halves, which may indicate an inability to maintain high-intensity activity. Although the physical capacity of female players is the most thoroughly researched area, comparisons are difficult due to differing protocols. Elite players exhibit maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) values of 49.4–57.6 mL·kg−1·min−1, Yo Yo Intermittent Endurance test level 2 (YYIE2) scores of 1,774 ± 532 m [mean ± standard deviation (SD)] and 20 m sprint times of 3.17 ± 0.03 s (mean ± SD). Reasons for the increased prevalence of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in females (2–6 times greater than males) are discussed, with anatomical, biomechanical loading and neuromuscular activation differences being cited in the literature. This review presents an in-depth contemporary examination of the applied physiology of the female soccer player.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014