Women footballers "sprint less and give the ball away more" than men in the second half

Football Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

A Sunderland University study comparing male and female footballers has found women sprint less in the second half of matches and give the ball away more.

Dr Paul Bradley studied 54 men and 59 women playing in the UEFA Champions League.

His research found female players did not run as far at high intensity in the second half, but men did manage as many sprints in both halves.

The research also showed the difference in technical characteristics, with female players losing the ball more frequently and having a lower pass completion rate.

"We can clearly see that the male and female game at the top level is very different both physically and technically. "It was very interesting to see fairly similar total distances but substantial differences at high intensity between gender. "The larger drop off in running performance in the second half for females could be due to their lower physical capacity thus, the demands of the game cause fatigue in the second half."

Jen O'Neill, of the women's football website She Kicks, said the difference between the two competitions could explain the difference.

"I'd be interested to know what level of the women's competition the study included. "This is particularly relevant because only really the quarter finals onwards are made up of predominantly teams that train more than a couple of times a week. "The women's game is constantly improving and the last few finals and latter knock-out stages have included some fantastic matches but there are massive differences in fitness levels and playing status from team to team, even within the Women's Champions League. "Only a handful of teams across Europe could be said to be 'professional' and this can sometimes lead to very lopsided results and hence less competitive second half contests, never mind comparing it to a men's competition where every side contains players who are paid to play full time.

Dr Bradley said he hoped his research could be used to inspire better training schedules for both sexes.