After a successful two years working on a project that explores the demands of the women’s game, a partnership between Leeds Beckett University and the English FA has been extended for a third year. This will see further development and even more in-depth insights into the locomotor and technical demands of the game.
Playermaker, a world-leader in football performance tracking technology, is providing support for the initiative.
The research aims to better understand the demands on players within the women’s game, and what learnings can be taken from the insights obtained to drive the game forward.
The research programme instigated by the English FA includes a collaboration with Leeds Beckett University to appoint a PhD student and a Post-doctoral researcher. They are using insights gathered from the data to answer performance questions the FA gave, whilst offering data insights directly back to clubs involved in the project to inform their training strategies.
“Understanding the demands and developments within the women’s game is crucial to offering the relevant support to players as they seek to fulfil their full potential,” Project Lead Ryan King said.
“Our pioneering project looks to answer a key performance problem; How physically demanding is the game and how can we best develop and prepare players? Using the innovative Playermaker technology and the brilliant minds at Leeds Beckett we will be able to provide performance solutions that help maximise player potential and avoid load related injury issues – it is phenomenally exciting.”
As part of the project, players have been granted the opportunity to access and use the innovative Playermaker wearable technology in matches through the FIFA Innovation Programme. It will enable a wealth of data and insight to be captured on match characteristics and leveraged to better understand the demands of the women’s game and to inform training prescription.
For the first year of the project, a number of Barclays FA Women’s Super League Senior teams, Academies and FA Women’s Championship clubs wore the Playermaker technology in training, offering world-first insight into how clubs train and prepare teams.
Following acceptance into the FIFA Innovation Programme, the second year of the project allowed clubs to use it in games, giving a unique perspective of the demands of elite women’s football and how we prepare and develop players to maximise their potential.
“This is a really exciting project to be working on with the FA and Playermaker. The acceptance of Playermaker into the FIFA Innovation Programme is a big milestone in the project as this allows us to better understand the physical demands of the game,” Dr Stacey Emmonds, a Reader in Sports Performance at Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Sport, said.
“As part of the research project, Leeds Beckett have developed interactive live training and match dashboards for each club in the project and an overall dashboard for the FA. These provide clubs with live analysis of their training and match data, and it also allows them to make comparisons to anonymised league averages.
“This enables the clubs to directly integrate the project research findings into daily training practices at the club and further develop evidence informed practice in women’s football.”
The project aims to better inform coaching staff, multi-disciplinary practitioners and athletes, who as a result will be able to make educated decisions about training priorities and managing injuries, and to better understand training load and match intensity.
This is coupled with the ongoing club-specific live data visualisation and feedback tools developed by Leeds Beckett on a raft of performance metrics against league averages. These provide live training insights which clubs can use to enhance physical development strategies.
Thanks to the work being conducted by the organisations, the resulting research programme and the participation of clubs; the data will help to innovate, support, and invest in the already phenomenal talent within the women’s game.
“We are thrilled that professional female footballers will now be able to use Playermaker technology in both game and training environments, as a result of the support and efforts of The FA, Leeds Beckett University and FIFA’s Innovation Programme,” Playermaker CEO and Co-Founder Guy Aharon said.
“The research that is being carried out is crucial to driving forward the women’s game, and we are proud to play a part in investing in and raising the bar for female football athletes overall.
“Beyond this, having the Playermaker wearable device approved for the first-time in professional matches is a huge milestone as our vision is for our technology to be available at all levels of the game, providing the ability for anyone who is passionate about the game to improve using our insights and data.”
Leeds Beckett University will be hosting a Football Exchange Research Conference on Saturday May 21, 2022 – where further insights from this research and similar projects in other professional football organisations will be shared.