Height and Soccer

Woodwork

SILVER ELITE
This came up a couple different places, but I feel like it deserves its own thread.

Discounting the CB and GK positions, the average height of the current USWNT is 66.6 inches. That is 2 1/2 inches taller than the average american female. The median height of the team is 5'7. There are only two players at or below average height, Dunn and Lavelle. Other than CB or GK, there are only two players 5'9 or taller. This would suggest an advantage in women's advancement to being taller than average, but not by more than 5 inches unless most males in non-CB/GK positions on the USMNT would be over 6 feet tall.

The USMNT average height for non-CB/GK position is 68.6 inches, or a half inch under 5'9. There are 9 non-CB/GK players at or below the American male average of 5'9. The median height is 5'9. only two of these players are 3 inches taller than average, with Gyasi Zardes at 6'2 as the tallest.

It makes you wonder what accounts for this difference.

Is the USWNT emphasizing a physical approach that potentially devalues skilled players? Is this a result of choices by coaches at developmental stages or some other disparity in the player pools?
 

Woodwork

SILVER ELITE
This came up a couple different places, but I feel like it deserves its own thread.

Discounting the CB and GK positions, the average height of the current USWNT is 66.6 inches. That is 2 1/2 inches taller than the average american female. The median height of the team is 5'7. There are only two players at or below average height, Dunn and Lavelle. Other than CB or GK, there are only two players 5'9 or taller. This would suggest an advantage in women's advancement to being taller than average, but not by more than 5 inches unless most males in non-CB/GK positions on the USMNT would be over 6 feet tall.

The USMNT average height for non-CB/GK position is 68.6 inches, or a half inch under 5'9. There are 9 non-CB/GK players at or below the American male average of 5'9. The median height is 5'9. only two of these players are 3 inches taller than average, with Gyasi Zardes at 6'2 as the tallest.

It makes you wonder what accounts for this difference.

Is the USWNT emphasizing a physical approach that potentially devalues skilled players? Is this a result of choices by coaches at developmental stages or some other disparity in the player pools?
In the second paragraph, I meant to say:
This would suggest an advantage in women's advancement to being taller than average, but not by more than 5 inches. If this applied to men, most males in non-CB/GK positions on the USMNT would be over 6 feet tall.
 
Height can be a factor but people of all shapes and sizes can compete in soccer.

Tall or smaller players each has an advantage and disadvantage but yeah that can vary depending
on what position(s) you play.

Players like Sam Mewis @ 6' do have some advantage in aerial duels but that doesn't determine the physical attributes required for soccer like it does for the NBA or WNBA where a very small % of the population have the size, strength, jumping ability to compete.

Speed might be a better indicator of a physical attribute that higher levels soccer players need.
 

Woodwork

SILVER ELITE
Height can be a factor but people of all shapes and sizes can compete in soccer.

Tall or smaller players each has an advantage and disadvantage but yeah that can vary depending
on what position(s) you play.

Players like Sam Mewis @ 6' do have some advantage in aerial duels but that doesn't determine the physical attributes required for soccer like it does for the NBA or WNBA where a very small % of the population have the size, strength, jumping ability to compete.

Speed might be a better indicator of a physical attribute that higher levels soccer players need.
For men, what you are saying clearly plays out. The height ranges seem to reflect height doesn't matter for non centerback or goalkeeper positions. What is your explanation for the clear height advantage to selection in the USWNT?
 
Should we factor into this "USA suffers because it focuses on height and the rest of the world is catching up" analysis that the average height of the Swedish team, excluding D and GK, is the same as the USWNT, 5'7"?

And that outside of D and GK, there are 5 players on the Swedish team that are 5'9" or taller (compared to only 2 for the USWNT)?
 

Woodwork

SILVER ELITE
Should we factor into this "USA suffers because it focuses on height and the rest of the world is catching up" analysis that the average height of the Swedish team, excluding D and GK, is the same as the USWNT, 5'7"?

And that outside of D and GK, there are 5 players on the Swedish team that are 5'9" or taller (compared to only 2 for the USWNT)?
Average female height in Sweden is 1.25 inches taller. We definitely can’t rely on height to win all games.
 
I think we need to measure the size of the heart:

messi is doing well
Tyrek Hill with the KC chiefs at WR is uncoverable
Trae Young atlanta Hawks is pretty damn good.
The japanese do well in soccer both women and men.
the list goes on.
 

supercell

BRONZE
Absolutely. Teaching these kids that you HAVE to be big to compete is why the US suffers in so many ways at the highest levels. Watch soccer played all over the world and you will not see this same “bigger is best” mentality.
Are you sure about that? I don't have stats, but I would wager that the average size of pro soccer players worldwide has increased in the last 3 decades.
 
This came up a couple different places, but I feel like it deserves its own thread.

Discounting the CB and GK positions, the average height of the current USWNT is 66.6 inches. That is 2 1/2 inches taller than the average american female. The median height of the team is 5'7. There are only two players at or below average height, Dunn and Lavelle. Other than CB or GK, there are only two players 5'9 or taller. This would suggest an advantage in women's advancement to being taller than average, but not by more than 5 inches unless most males in non-CB/GK positions on the USMNT would be over 6 feet tall.

The USMNT average height for non-CB/GK position is 68.6 inches, or a half inch under 5'9. There are 9 non-CB/GK players at or below the American male average of 5'9. The median height is 5'9. only two of these players are 3 inches taller than average, with Gyasi Zardes at 6'2 as the tallest.

It makes you wonder what accounts for this difference.

Is the USWNT emphasizing a physical approach that potentially devalues skilled players? Is this a result of choices by coaches at developmental stages or some other disparity in the player pools?
cue all the parents of shorter kids to post an argument that size doesn't matter. Cue all the parents of taller kids to post that height does matter.

Your original post focuses on the female side. And you make height/size v. skill as a zero sum game. It's not either a player is big and physical or they're skilled. A coach will ALWAYS take a bigger and faster player with the same skill over a shorter player. They will also ALWAYS prefer a bigger player with similar speed and skill. They will almost ALWAYS take a bigger player with more skill, even if they are a step slower than a shorter player.
The USWNT has been way more successful than the men's side. And yes, 5'7" is the average height. It's also very rare to see a player under 5'5" on a top womens college roster. Maybe the less successful USMNT needs to start finding more 6'2" CMs?
 
For men, what you are saying clearly plays out. The height ranges seem to reflect height doesn't matter for non centerback or goalkeeper positions. What is your explanation for the clear height advantage to selection in the USWNT?
The way I interpret your data is that at the highest level (men's top flight clubs, national teams), soccer is about first touch, passing, soccer IQ, movement, ability to accurately and effortless make/trap a 40-yard pass, etc., i.e. all the important soccer stuff that are not given for a born athlete. There are still players who are faster than others, but everyone has the required speed and strength to compete.

All levels below that from AYSO to USWNT, you can still outrun/outmuscle the opponents to various extents.
 

Dargle

GOLD
My experience with the girls side is that it’s really aggressiveness, rather than height, that makes a difference at the younger ages. Height is just an imperfect proxy for that. A bigger girl might be more willing to be aggressive because of her size, but there are plenty of short aggressive players and there are plenty of passive tall players afraid of contact or getting hit with the ball. There are also girls who are individually pretty skilled, but never advance much unless or until they get over their lack of aggressiveness.
 

Emma

SILVER ELITE
My experience with the girls side is that it’s really aggressiveness, rather than height, that makes a difference at the younger ages. Height is just an imperfect proxy for that. A bigger girl might be more willing to be aggressive because of her size, but there are plenty of short aggressive players and there are plenty of passive tall players afraid of contact or getting hit with the ball. There are also girls who are individually pretty skilled, but never advance much unless or until they get over their lack of aggressiveness.
This is true and the blame here might lie in our sexist refs who chose to card and call fouls on our boys but not with our girls. You are promoting aggressive girls as the better player, not the more skilled player. Start handing out those cards and calling more fouls. When we watch our son's game, there are 20 fouls each half called. When we watch our daughter, maybe 3 fouls are called.

5'7 is probably the ideal height for soccer movement and winning aerial balls. You're low enough to the ground but tall enough to jump for aerial balls. if we play on the ground more, then height matters less but free kicks and corner kicks rely on height. Winning balls cleared by defenders requires height. Some games, it feels more like headball not futbol.
 

Woodwork

SILVER ELITE
cue all the parents of shorter kids to post an argument that size doesn't matter. Cue all the parents of taller kids to post that height does matter.

Your original post focuses on the female side. And you make height/size v. skill as a zero sum game. It's not either a player is big and physical or they're skilled. A coach will ALWAYS take a bigger and faster player with the same skill over a shorter player. They will also ALWAYS prefer a bigger player with similar speed and skill. They will almost ALWAYS take a bigger player with more skill, even if they are a step slower than a shorter player.
The USWNT has been way more successful than the men's side. And yes, 5'7" is the average height. It's also very rare to see a player under 5'5" on a top womens college roster. Maybe the less successful USMNT needs to start finding more 6'2" CMs?
I don't make height/size v. skill a zero sum game. The word "devalues" means to lower the value, especially in relation to something else, but not necessarily devaluing it to zero. This would happen if height was overvalued, for example.

The comparison between the USMNT isn't necessarily the best one because they play in different leagues. There are too many variables affecting why one performs better than the other in different leagues. I am focusing on selection to each team as an outcome of perceived quality. Then I am asking whether height is one of those qualities.

You posit, "Maybe the less successful USMNT needs to start finding more 6'2" CMs?" Removing the "less successful" part of the question, this is basically the obverse of my question, whether it is overvalued on the women's side; whether it is undervalued on the men's side. Fair enough, but do you have an opinion? If it preferable for the USMNT to choose taller players (and you suggest coaches always do), why is the team fully of average and below-average height players in most positions? For example, is it a result of the taller youth in the men's pool of athletes choosing other sports? Does men's soccer get stuck with the rejects from other sports, the runts of the litter, the Danny Devito twin?
 

Woodwork

SILVER ELITE
This is true and the blame here might lie in our sexist refs who chose to card and call fouls on our boys but not with our girls. You are promoting aggressive girls as the better player, not the more skilled player. Start handing out those cards and calling more fouls. When we watch our son's game, there are 20 fouls each half called. When we watch our daughter, maybe 3 fouls are called.

5'7 is probably the ideal height for soccer movement and winning aerial balls. You're low enough to the ground but tall enough to jump for aerial balls. if we play on the ground more, then height matters less but free kicks and corner kicks rely on height. Winning balls cleared by defenders requires height. Some games, it feels more like headball not futbol.
I am hesitant to blame refs when they may just be adapting to the culture of the teams in front of them. Biology could have something to do with it. More than I want to get into here, but both male and female professional soccer player skew towards a certain body type. Not many built like linebackers.
 

Woodwork

SILVER ELITE
My experience with the girls side is that it’s really aggressiveness, rather than height, that makes a difference at the younger ages. Height is just an imperfect proxy for that. A bigger girl might be more willing to be aggressive because of her size, but there are plenty of short aggressive players and there are plenty of passive tall players afraid of contact or getting hit with the ball. There are also girls who are individually pretty skilled, but never advance much unless or until they get over their lack of aggressiveness.
At the younger ages, under 7, girth beats all.
 

socalkdg

PREMIER
Height listing on rosters of many sports seem to be rounded up a bit. Back in the 80's my 5' 7" wife was listed 5'9" for High School and College basketball. Cleats and high tops do add some height and they were measured in shoes and then rounded the number up. All the players that are going to be drafted for NBA averaged about 1 inch less in socks than the listed heights on the teams website. 2019 saw the NBA start measuring all the players because of this occurance.
 
This is true and the blame here might lie in our sexist refs who chose to card and call fouls on our boys but not with our girls. You are promoting aggressive girls as the better player, not the more skilled player. Start handing out those cards and calling more fouls. When we watch our son's game, there are 20 fouls each half called. When we watch our daughter, maybe 3 fouls are called.

5'7 is probably the ideal height for soccer movement and winning aerial balls. You're low enough to the ground but tall enough to jump for aerial balls. if we play on the ground more, then height matters less but free kicks and corner kicks rely on height. Winning balls cleared by defenders requires height. Some games, it feels more like headball not futbol.
If it’s true the boys game has more fouls called (not sure that’s true but think it’s possible) I’d argue the proportion of fouls called between the boys and girls is roughly the same. The refs may very well call more fouls in the boys game, but the boys are playing a little more rough. My gk son has even taken two stud up slides into him since the beginning of summer and no fouls called let alone cards issued. The issue isn’t that refs are sexist. The issue is there’s a school a referee thought out there that the kids should be allowed to “let them play” given the guidance that trifling fouls shouldn’t be called. Refs also are reluctant to issue cards (all summer I’ve seen maybe 4 yellows). So the boys have fouls going on that are egregious, but the refs on both games in this school are trying to avoid making calls (it’s just the boys force their hand more often, to the extent boys are even being called more)
 
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