Sprint speed characteristics of high-level American female soccer players: Female Athletes in Motion (FAiM) study.
Sprint speed is important in soccer and while descriptions of male players are plentiful relatively few data exist for high-level female players. The aim of this study was to determine speed characteristics of high-level American female soccer players and evaluate if speed could distinguish between players selected (n=56) and those not selected (n=84) in a professional draft. A cross-sectional study design. One hundred and forty women participating in a try-out for a professional soccer league had speed assessed over 35 m with splits at 5, 10 and 20 m. Speeds for the static start distances (5, 10, 20 and 35 m) as well as for 'flying' splits (flying 5, 10, 25 and 30 m; also first 15 and final 15 m) were determined. Mean speed over 5, 10, 20 and 35 m was 15.1±1.1, 18.0±0.9, 21.2±0.9 and 23.4±0.9 km h⁻¹, respectively. Mean peak speed was 27.3±1.4 km h⁻¹ and occurred during the final 15m of the sprint (20-35 m). Speed for all flying splits exceeded 21.0 km h⁻¹, with maximum values observed in excess of 30.0 km h⁻¹. All speeds, except for the flying 5m split, were faster in the drafted players compared to non-drafted players. These data indicate that elite female soccer players achieve speeds ranging between 22 and 26 km h⁻¹ over distances of 15-20 m and can reach 27 km h⁻¹ when evaluated over 35 m. Sprint speed was able to distinguish between drafted and non-drafted players. Copyright © 2012 Sports Medicine Australia. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.