Deconstructing stereotypes: Stature, match-playing time, and performance in elite Women's World Cup soccer

Ciara N. Manning, Yasuki Sekiguchi, Courteney L. Benjamin, McKenna R. Spaulding, Erin E. Dierickx, Jayson M. Spaulding, Dayshia M. Davenport, Jillian R. Picard-Busky, George T. Chiampas, George P. Nassis, Douglas J. Casa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Recruiting companies recommend elite female soccer players be ≥165 cm (5′5″) in stature. This study investigated if stature limits match-playing time and performance in elite World Cup soccer among players, positions, and countries. We hypothesized stature would not affect match-playing time or performance. Descriptive data were collected on 552 players from 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. Odds ratios determined likelihood of starting for players <165 cm and ≥165 cm. ANOVAs compared playing time between stature groups, among positions, and between countries. Performance factors including assists, goals, attempts, corners, shots blocked, and defending blocks were reported. Independent t-tests compared differences between players (≥165 cm, < 165 cm). Data are reported, mean difference [95% confidence interval] [MD (95%CI)] and effect sizes (ES). On average, 32.3% of players were <165 cm. Of total players, no differences existed in total minutes (F = 0.98, p = 0.32), matches (F = 0.27 p = 0.59), or average minutes per match (F = 0.48, p = 0.49) between stature groups, regardless of position. No differences existed in playing time between players <165 cm and ≥165 cm among any positions (p > 0.05), or between countries (p > 0.05). Taller mid-fielders exhibited greater performance in goals, assists, attempts, shots blocked, and defending blocks (MD [95%CI] ES; assists, −0.44[−0.76,−0.11]0.59, p = 0.009; goals, −0.35[−0.69,−0.01]0.44, p = 0.047); attempts, 3.14[1.38, 4.90]0.80, p = 0.001; corners, 2.04[0.12, 3.95]0.48, p = 0.037; shots blocked, 0.96[0.40, 1.51]0.75, p = 0.001; defending blocks, 0.43[0.32,0.82]0.48, p = 0.035), however, actual differences were minimal. Our findings indicate stature does not inhibit playing and performing elite women's soccer, as nearly one-third of players were <165 cm.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1067190
JournalFrontiers in Sports and Active Living
Publication statusPublished - Dec 14 2022


  • FIFA world cup
  • height
  • performance
  • playing time
  • women's soccer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Anthropology
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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