This study analyzed pre-season strength measurements over two years for one male and one female professional soccer organization. Differences in strength values were observed between groups and can serve as a baseline for future introspect into this population.
The purpose of this study was to examine differences in hip strength between professional male and female soccer players. Ultimately, when controlling for height, weight, and limb dominance, we expect to observe differences in strength values between genders consistent with previous literature in related populations.
An IRB-approved retrospective cross-sectional analysis was performed. Two years of available data were collected from pre-participation examinations of partnering male (n = 21) and female (n = 19) professional soccer organizations. The physicals were performed prior to the start of their respective competitive seasons. Each player’s lower extremity strength was tested for peak strength utilizing isometric hand-held dynamometry on the dominant and non-dominant lower extremities. Muscle groups included were: hip abductors, hip internal rotators, hip external rotators, posterior gluteus medius, and hamstrings. A two-tailed unpaired t-test was used to compare height, weight, BMI, and strength measures (p<0.05).
Data presented as means ± standard deviation. As expected height (male: 183.1±6.8cm, female 170.0±5.5cm), weight (male: 79.0±8.7kg, female 65.1±5.6kg), body mass index (male: 23.5±1.3kg/m2, female 22.5±1.4 kg/m2), and average leg length (male: 95.5±4.34cm, female 88.3±3.24cm) differed between groups, with males exhibiting larger values for each category (p<0.05). Significant differences were also found between groups for hip abduction strength (dominant leg male: 19.5±3.6kg, female 17.3±2.2kg; non-dominant leg male: 18.5±3.7kg, female 16.0±2.3kg), adduction strength (dominant leg male: 19.8±3.0kg, female 16.7±2.3kg; non-dominant leg male: 20.1±2.9kg, female 17.6±2.9kg), external rotation strength (dominant leg male: 21.7±3.4kg, female 17.7±2.4kg; non-dominant leg male: 21.6±3.9kg, female 16.8±2.1kg), and dominant hamstring strength (male: 27.9±6.5kg, female 23.0±4.9kg). The ratio of hip internal to external rotation strength varied significantly in the non-dominant leg (male: 1.1±0.2, female 0.9±0.2). No significant differences were found between male and females when normalized to body mass.
The results of the data collected in this study support previous research for gender differences related to peak muscle strength. Given that the men in the study were significantly larger with regards to height, weight, BMI, it is reasonable to assume (based on previous studies) that the male athletes also had a greater regional lean mass, though no measurements of lean mass were recorded. Importantly, when normalized to body mass, no strength differences were observed between male and female soccer players. The data presented in this study can potentially serve as a baseline for future research correlating pre-season strength measurements to injury potential between genders.