Objectives: To examine physical fitness profiles of female Australian football players and investigate differences according to competition level.
Methods: A testing battery of 28 physical fitness assessments was undertaken with 240 players across five competition levels: elite senior (≥18 years), non-elite senior (≥18 years), high-level junior (<18 years), non-elite junior (14–17 years), and non-elite junior (10–13 years). Physical fitness profiles were examined and competition level differences were investigated using multivariate analyses of variance.
Results: Significant differences (p<0.001) were observed between competition levels in body composition (η2p=0.225), flexibility (η2p=0.071), muscular strength and endurance (η2p=0.238), balance (η2p=0.093), reaction time (η2p=0.103), and whole-body locomotor performance (η2p=0.200). Elite seniors and high-level juniors were stronger (p<0.001–0.043), faster (p=0.001–0.022), more responsive (p<0.001–0.048), and had better cardiorespiratory fitness (p<0.001) compared to the non-elite groups. Additionally, body composition and muscular strength and endurance differences were common between the senior and non-elite junior groups.
Conclusions: This is the first study to comprehensively profile physical characteristics of female Australian footballers across a broader development pathway. These preliminary findings may assist sport practitioners to better understand athlete development, provide insight on talent identification and development programs, and injury management in this population.