BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Exercise Medicine Research Institute
Background: This study compared the physical demands and effect of field location for different phases of play (offence, defence and contested), and examined the physical and technical demands of successful and unsuccessful phases of play during Australian Football matches. Methods: Global positioning system (GPS) and technical performance data were collected from 32 male Australian Football players in one club over 19 games in the 2019 season. The GPS data was aligned with phases of play acquired using Champion Data. Linear mixed models were used to detect differences between phases of play and field location which were further contextualized using Cohen’s d effect size. Results: Physical demands were greatest (p < 0.001) in defensive phases for backs (ES 0.61 to 1.42), and offensive phases for midfielders (ES 0.65 to 0.96) and forwards (ES 0.84 to 1.94). Additionally, distance and high-speed running were lowest in contested phases irrespective of playing position. Distance and high-speed running were greatest in larger field locations (e.g., full ground). No pattern was evident for accelerations or decelerations. Successful offensive plays demonstrated greater physical and technical outputs for midfielders and forwards, whereas the opposite was found for backs. Physical output was largely greater in unsuccessful defensive plays for all positions; however, the rate of tackles and marks was greater during successful defence. Conclusion: These findings enable a greater understanding of the demands of Australian Football matches, and can be utilized to inform both representative training design, and the evaluation of player performance.
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