BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Edith Cowan University Higher Degree by Research Scholarship
Background: This study compares ball in play (BiP) analyses and both whole game (WG) and quarter averaged data for physical and technical demands of sub-elite Australian football (AF) players competing in the West Australian Football League across playing positions. Methods: Microsensor data were collected from 33 male AF players in one club over 19 games of the 2019 season. BiP time periods and technical performance data (e.g., kicks) were acquired from the Champion Data timeline of statistics, and time matched to the microsensor data. Linear mixed modelling was utilised to establish differences between maximum BiP periods and averaged data. Results: The analyses indicated significant differences (p < 0.0001) between maximum BiP and WG data for all metrics and all playing position (half-line, key position, and midfielders). The percentage difference was greatest for very high-speed running (171–178%), accelerations (136–142%), high-intensity efforts (128–139%), and high-speed running (134–147%) compared to PlayerLoad™ (50–56%) and total running distance (56–59%). No significant (p > 0.05) differences were evident for maximum BiP periods when they were compared between playing positions (i.e., half line vs key position vs midfield). Significant (p < 0.0001) differences were also noted between maximum BiP phases and averaged data across all 4 quarters, for each microsensor metric, and all playing positions. Technical actions (e.g., kicks and handballs) were observed in 21–48% of maximum BiP phases, depending on playing positions and microsensor metric assessed, with kicks and handballs constituting > 50% of all actions performed. Conclusions: These results show the BiP analysis method provides a more accurate assessment of the physical demands and technical actions performed by AF players, which are underestimated when using averaged data. The data presented in this study may be used to inform the design and monitoring of representative practice, ensuring that athletes are prepared for both the physical and technical demands of the most demanding passages of play.
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