Posted 08/03/2019 in Category 1 by Philip Solomon-Turay

Football Performance and Gender: Same Pitch, Different Results

Football Performance and Gender: Same Pitch, Different Results

This summer has marked an incredible period of international men's and women's football (soccer). This has included, Copa America, CONCACAF, ACON and the women's world cup to name a few. All international competitions were filled with drama throughout, but I believe the women's world cup had the most nail-biting moments. Focusing on the women's world cup, 24 countries competed to achieve the highest honour in Women's football. With record-breaking TV audiences and countless amounts of amazing plays from multiple teams, it overall was an amazing competition to watch. The USA was crowned back to back champions in dominant fashion; which saw them in the group stage win a match 13 - 0. There were many controversial decisions made with VAR which dramatically changed the landscape of some matches and sparked big debates. These debates have not concluded, but have shifted from VAR to equal pay between genders within the sport. These gender differences are not only evident within their earnings, but also in how the game is played between the two on the pitch. In this blog, I will be focusing on the pitch and looking into the unique paths taken by both genders to produce the beautiful game of football. I will delve into the positive physical, tactical and psychological areas of how the sport is played between the two genders.


Physical  

The main physical abilities needed within football are endurance, balance, coordination, speed, strength and power. Training within the sport is very similar between genders as it is quite common for coaches to go from men to women teams and vice versa. Although the training is similar, from a biological standpoint, men typically develop more in these physical areas. These physical attributes amaze the fans and draw them from all backgrounds to witness something incredible. From the casual fans to the been supporting the team since they were born, die-hard fans. These abilities build excitement within matches as they witness the blistering speed of Ronaldo down the wing or the incredible power of Van Dijk on defence. These abilities produce a faster and more aggressive game of football, distinctly showcasing the differences in how the game is played on the men's side. Although these physical benefits bring in a massive audience for men's football, women's football brings a unique flair to the game which in return brings fans to the stands.

 

Tactical 

 This unique flair can be seen in the technical and tactical aspects of women football. An emphasis has been placed more on acquiring skills to beat an opponent rather than relying on natural physical abilities and aggression to do so. If you can't just outrun your opponent and score, you then need to be technically at a level to execute this. Because of this decrease in aggression, fewer fouls are committed and given; which gives a better opportunity to produce a more fluid pace of football. These skills are not only placed on individual athletes, but also the team. More of an emphasis is placed on the team structure and collectively working together to score. For example the Netherlands brilliant display of team football which saw them get to the final by them collectively working together and sticking to their game plan every match. Although both these technical and tactical aspects of football are evident in both genders, more of an emphasis is placed within women's football and it has proven to be successful in teams such as Japan, England, The Netherlands and of course the USA. An aspect which both genders equally use however are the psychological aspects needed for success.

 

 Psychological Application in Football

From a psychological standpoint, both genders adopt psychological skills to aid in their performance. Multiple psychological techniques and skills are used in the sport of football and many teams use different ones depending on their situation. From a gender point of view, there are different psychological skills which are commonly evident.

On the men's side, Self-efficacy is commonly evident and this is the belief a person has in their ability to perform a skill to reach an objective (Bandura, 2010). I believe this is commonly seen as athletes normally place their belief in their physical abilities when battling against their opponents. This can sometimes benefit the team in an interception being made by a defender and sometimes negatively affect the team in terms of a striker missing an easy pass for their teammate to score, as the player "wanted to go for glory". Finding the balance between believing in your abilities (self-efficacy) and relying on your teammates is a balance hard to come by and only a few players and teams achieve this on a consistent basis.

 Self-efficacy, however, is also evident in women's football as well (if you have seen Sam Kerr play then you know this is definitely the case) as they place their belief in their technical abilities. But what is more commonly seen is team cohesion. This is the ability for a team to unit together in pursuit of a common goal (Carron, Bray, & Eys, 2002). This also involves Everyone having a deep understanding of their role on the team and how they can contribute to the teams' success. This is seen as teams often rely on the set game plan and the effort of the collective team to score goals and ultimately win the game.  With this understanding, a beautiful piece of football is produced which I'm sure the pure fans of football can appreciate.

 

In conclusion, there are many benefits both genders show in how they play the game. In addition to the pay gap, there are physical, technical, and psychology areas in which both genders can improve on. Never the less, this summer has given fans amazing international football throughout and I look forward to seeing this continue in the domestic leagues.

 

 

References 

Bandura, A. (2010). Self‐efficacy. The Corsini encyclopedia of psychology, 1-3.

Carron, A., Bray, R., & Eys, A. (2002). Team cohesion and team success in sport. Journal of sports sciences, 20(2), 119-126.


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