Women vs. men—tactical efficiency in football
In modern football, tactics are relevant across all age groups and performance levels. Yet for a long time, they have received little attention in the training process. Today, tactical performance offers enormous potential. In a new project, sports scientists at the German Sport University Cologne have been comparing the soccer-specific tactical performance of male and female players in Europe with the help of position data. The study is sponsored by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
In the run-up to the Women's World Cup, a provocative advertising spot showed the German women's footballers with a humorous tagline based on a cliché that many have probably encountered before: Women's soccer is different from men's.
"Like amateur football, only in slow motion," says the ad.
But humor apart, where objectively do the style differences lie between men and women, and how do these compare across Europe?
Prof. Daniel Memmert, head of the study, says, "We are looking for similarities and differences between the tactical behavior of women's and men's national teams with the aim of drawing comparisons between different countries in Europe. In order to avoid any gender-specific bias in the evaluation we rely on position data instead of the usual video data." Newly developed key performance indicators and sport informatics analysis methods based on artificial neural networks have been used as objective analysis tools.
The study's findings will enable objective conclusions to be drawn about the training of men and women players in their different cultures, thus contributing to the further development and professionalization of women's football in the field of tactics, while supporting efforts to promote public awareness of women's football as an attractive sport on the basis of objective evaluation criteria.