The three-year study will investigate the performance characteristics of female footballers from youth age to first-team level.
Led by academics from the university’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, researchers will determine the physical demands of matches and how these change with age and playing level.
The project will also analyse training session data to see how this aligns with player preparation and the demands of the sport, as well as an analysis of injuries to players which will be investigated against training intensity and match load.
The development of players will also be monitored over a two-to-three-year period to determine the expected development of performance characteristics.
The findings will be used by West Ham United’s coaching staff, practitioners, and players to better understand the demands of women’s football and to help them to prevent and manage injuries effectively.
Lead researcher Dr Laura Barrett, Lecturer in Exercise Physiology, explained: “The professionalisation of the women's game alongside a considerable rise in the number of youth players has led to rapid increases in the intensity of play, adding to the need for up-to-date information on the demands of the women’s game.
“Thanks to philanthropic funding from Kukri Sports Ltd and access to Catapult Sports technology we are excited to work with West Ham United FC women to collect data that is essential for coaches and practitioners to make well-informed decisions on how best to support their players to fulfil their full potential.”
Aidan Boxall, General Manager, West Ham United Women, said: “We are delighted to continue this ground-breaking partnership with Loughborough University.
"Given the rate at which women’s football is growing, the Club recognises the importance of having a greater understanding of our players and their performance needs.
”By working with Loughborough University over the course of this three-year study, our coaching staff and practitioners hope to gain a better understanding of the increasing demands of women’s football to develop and improve the performance of our players.”
As part of Loughborough’s commitment to the research project, University colleagues have also engaged campus partner Catapult Sports in the project.
The sports performance analytics company has provided West Ham United women’s team with its industry leading wearable technology to track player performance, including goalkeeper specific devices, heart rate monitors and the software and expertise required for the study.
Rich Ellis, Head of Commercial Partnerships and Sports Facilities, Loughborough University, said: “We are thrilled to be leading on such a vital piece of research as women’s football continues to go from strength to strength.
“By collaborating alongside campus partners, West Ham United Women, Catapult Sports, and Kukri, we have collectively brought together some of the best minds in sports performance to deliver a research project that will yield impactful results.”
The study has also been partly funded by Loughborough Sport’s premium sportswear provider, Kukri.
Loughborough University became the official higher education partner of West Ham United Women in 2022.
To read more on the initial partnership agreement, visit: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2022/december/lboro-uni-agrees-partnership-with-west-ham-women/