Performance analysis in women's Australian football: A review of current literature, challenges, and its potential for future research

Braedan Van der Vegt*, Jessica B. Farley, Adrian Gepp, Justin W L Keogh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearchpeer-review

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Female Australian football (AF) became professional through the creation of the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) in 2017. This competition has allowed performance analysis capabilities within female AF to increase due to greater availability of data measuring game statistics, greater match coverage, access to facilities and sports science equipment, and player information. This newfound capability for data collection enables the exploration of a wide array of performance areas of the women’s game. This includes the opportunity to use big data analytics, which is becoming more prevalent in performance analysis in sport. To date, no review of existing research in AFLW has been done to synthesise current knowledge and uncover current research gaps. This presents challenges to female AF practitioners regarding what evidence base they should use to guide industry best practices. Meanwhile, researchers are also challenged as to what additional research needs to be prioritised. This is particularly relevant given that results produced by xamination of male match-play performance have previously been assumed to translate to female performance without further investigation. Such an assumption fails to account for the differences in human physiology and athletic profile, and also access to further sport science facilities and development pathways that are more readily available in many male sports. Thus, a review study with the specific objective of understanding performance in the AFLW competition can be valuable to help alleviate this issue. The AFLW competition has not been beyond criticism and challenges in its formative years with scrutiny over low-scoring and high injury rates, while there has been the ever-present uncertainty surrounding COVID restrictions that have plagued the previous three seasons. Adding further difficulty to research within the sport, the fast-evolving nature of match-play as the competition has begun to develop means that much of the research already produced can quickly lose representativeness of the current state of the competition and sport. With the increasing prominence of female AF, as evident by the increase in participation of women and girls of all levels in AF and the expansion of the AFLW competition, a review of female AF performance analysis literature is warranted. As a result, the review that we have conducted can guide further investigation of performance analysis within female AF by establishing clear foundations for future research to build upon with consideration given to the difficulties that have arisen through the changing face of the game due to internal development and the challenging external environment surrounding professional sport currently. Therefore, the primary aim of this conference presentation and review is to describe and critically analyse methods of performance analysis that have been employed in female AF taking a physical, technical, or tactical perspective with suggestions of areas of future research that can be produced to consider and potentially help alleviate the challenges that currently face the sport. The insights produced can provide practical information for researchers, sports science practitioners, and data analysts working with female AF players. This includes better describing the current demands of the competition while highlighting areas covered within the men’s game that have not been researched, critical analysis of the methods and the representativeness of the current literature, as well as helping to inform better data collection and other best practices to provide guidance to produce more meaningful results in future research.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
EventInterdisciplinary Colloquium on Sport: Getting Back on the Field: Sport in a Post-COVID World - Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia
Duration: 18 Feb 202218 Feb 2022 (General website for conference)


ConferenceInterdisciplinary Colloquium on Sport
CityGold Coast
OtherThe Bond University Interdisciplinary Colloquium on Sport was first held in 2010 as a ‘round table’ event. Originally an initiative of the Emeritus Professor Jim Corkery from the Faculty of Law (and founder of the Centre for Commercial Law),
the Colloquium is now in its 12th year. The Colloquium is an interdisciplinary forum for the presentation and discussion of contemporary sport-related research with the objective to exchange ideas and create collaborative opportunities across jurisdictions, disciplines and institutions.
Selected papers are invited for peer review and submission to the Bond Sports Law and Governance Journal. Research presented at previous colloquia has been published in journals including the Bond Sports Law and Governance Journal
and Sport Management Review.

The Bond University Colloquium is truly interdisciplinary and supported by:
• Faculty of Law
• Bond Business School
• Health Sciences & Medicine
• Faculty of Society and Design
• The Centre of Commercial Law
• Centre for Professional Legal Education
• Office of Research Services
• Office of Learning and Teaching
• Microcredential Unit
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