BACKGROUND: The first women's Australian football (AF) professional competition was established in 2017, resulting in advancement in performance analysis capabilities within the sport. Given the specific constraints of women's AF, it is currently unclear what match-play performance analysis methods and techniques are implemented. Therefore, the aim of this scoping review was to describe and critically appraise physical, technical, and tactical performance analysis methods that have been employed in women's and girls' AF match-play.
METHODOLOGY: A systematic search was conducted on the 27th of June 2022 through five databases. Eligibility criteria were derived from the PCC framework with the population (P) of women and girls AF players, of any level of play; concepts (C) of interest which were measures, data, and methods related to the sport's physical, technical, and tactical performance; and the context (C) of methods that analysed any match-play performance. A narrative synthesis was conducted using extracted study characteristic data such as sample size, population, time period, collection standards, evaluation metrics for results, and application of thematic categorisations of previous sports performance reviews. Critical appraisal of eligible studies' methodologies was conducted to investigate research quality and identify methodological issues.
RESULTS: From 183 studies screened, twelve eligible studies were included, which examined match-play through physical (9/12, 75%), technical (4/12, 33%), and tactical analysis (2/12, 17%). Running demands and game actions analysis were the most researched in senior women's AF. Research into junior girls' AF match-play performance has not been investigated. No research has been conducted on non-running physical demands, contact demands, acceleration, and tactical aspects of women's AF. All studies utilised either inferential statistics or basic predictive models. Critical appraisal deemed most studies as low risk of bias (11/12, 92%), with the remaining study having satisfactory risk.
CONCLUSIONS: Future research utilising increased longitudinal and greater contextual data is needed to combat the prominent issue of data representativeness to better characterise performance within women's and girls' AF. Additionally, research involving junior and sub-elite AF players across the talent pathways is important to conduct, as it provides greater context and insight regarding development to support the evolving elite women's AF competition. Women's AF has been constrained by its resource environment. As such, suggestions are provided for better utilisation of existing data, as well as for the creation of new data for appropriate future research. Greater data generation enables the use of detailed machine learning predictions, neural networks, and network analysis to better represent the intertwined nature of match-play performance from technical, physical, and tactical data.