The Relationship Between Physical Fitness Qualities and Sport-Specific Technical Skills in Female, Team-Based Ball Players: A Systematic Review

Jessica Farley*, Joshua Stein, Justin W L Keogh, Carl Woods, Nikki Milne

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Understanding the relationships between physical fitness attributes and sport-specific technical skills may assist with the establishment of beneficial training interventions. The aim of this systematic review was to determine if physical fitness qualities were associated with performance of sport-specific technical skills in female, team-based ball players.Methods: Five databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, ProQuest, and Scopus) were searched for relevant studies up to April 15, 2019. Full-text articles investigating relationships between physical fitness and sport-specific technical skills in female, team-based ball players were included. Methodological quality of included studies was appraised using a modified Downs and Black checklist. Data synthesis was conducted to determine the summary of evidence based on the number of significantly associated relationships divided by the total relationships assessed. An individual relationship was defined as a reported result examining the association between a single physical fitness variable and a single sport-specific technical skill.Results: Data synthesis of grouped female ball players from 41 included studies revealed three clear associations: (i) body composition and defensive technical skills (19/29; 66%), (ii) agility and movement with a ball (4/6; 67%), and (iii) coordination and movement with a ball (3/5; 60%). An uncertain association exists between cardiorespiratory fitness and defensive technical skills (2/5; 40%). No association or an unknown conclusion (< 5 relationships reported) exists between all remaining physical fitness attributes and sport-specific technical skills. Sub-analyses revealed clear associations between body composition and throwing/shooting (using hands) in junior ball players (15/15; 100%) and with movement with a ball in elite (6/9; 67%) and senior (6/6; 100%) ball players. Three uncertain associations were found between offensive technical skills and agility in elite ball players (3/8; 38%), and with speed in elite (6/14; 43%) and junior (7/18; 39%) female ball players.Conclusion: There is limited evidence available to demonstrate relationships between physical fitness qualities and sport-specific technical skills in female, team-based ball players. This lack of association is possibly due to reductionist methods in available literature and a lack of research in female ball players globally.Registration: CRD42017065339 (PROSPERO on 12 May 2017).Keywords: Women, Fitness attributes, Skill acquisition, Performance, Team sports
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages20
JournalSports Medicine - Open
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


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