We investigated kicking velocity and physical, technical, and tactical match performance for under-18 (U18) female football players and evaluated the effect of using a newly developed lighter smaller ball. Ten regional league teams participated. Maximal ball velocity was 4±1% higher when kicking the new ball (NB) compared with the standard ball (SB) in a laboratory testing situation (23.2±0.4 vs. 22.4±0.3 ms(-1); p.05), but lower-limb muscular RPE was lower with NB (4.2±0.4 vs. 5.2±0.3; p.05). High-intensity running decreased (p.05). In conclusion, physiological demands were high in youth female football games, and decrements in running performance occurred towards the end of games. The players kicked faster and reported lower muscular exertion during games played with a lighter smaller ball, but locomotor activities, heart rate and overall technical-tactical game performance remained unaffected.
Human Movement Science, 2012, Vol 31, Issue 6, p. 1624-1638