The talent selection and career progression of professional Australian football players

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2019
Full metadata record
The ultimate goal of professional Australian Football clubs is to achieve team success by consistently winning matches. This is highly dependent upon selecting the best available talent and implementing an effective player development program. Coaching and recruitment staff seek to identify an objective framework of talent selection and career progression to provide evidence for guiding athletic development, assessing program effectiveness and for supporting decisions regarding the playing roster. This thesis contains one literature review and three independent studies which investigate talent selection and the career progression of professional Australian Football players. The literature review summarised previous research investigating talent identification, talent selection and career progression in professional Australian Football. The review identified an abundance of research investigating talent identification through discriminating between competitive levels but far fewer studies examining talent selection and draft order in the Australian Football League (AFL). Furthermore, despite survival and career progression being assessed in other professional team sports, the review identified that there were no studies examining the career of professional Australian Football players beyond selection in the AFL Draft. 𝘚𝘡𝘢π˜₯𝘺 π˜–π˜―π˜¦ examined the relationship between common talent selection criteria, draft order and future match performance in the AFL. The results questioned the usefulness of Draft Combine physical performance assessments in current talent selection practices however, confirmed the efficacy of Under-18 All Australian team selection as criteria for selecting players with the potential for success in professional Australian Football. 𝘚𝘡𝘢π˜₯𝘺 π˜›π˜Έπ˜° investigated the factors associated with early career progression in Australian Football players. This study identified important individual and team based characteristics related to receiving a second contract in professional Australian Football which can be used to inform decisions regarding the playing roster and guide the development of players recently drafted into the league. 𝘚𝘡𝘢π˜₯𝘺 π˜›π˜©π˜³π˜¦π˜¦ examined the age-related career performance trajectories of professional Australian Football players. The results showed that professional Australian Football players peak in match performance between 24 and 27 years of age with age having the largest influence on the midfield position and the least on ruckman. This thesis examined the talent selection and career progression of professional Australian Football players. Results demonstrated that age-related changes in the match performance of professional Australian Football players are position specific. Further, it established that while some individual and team based characteristics are associated with early career progression, little of what is objectively available to coaching and recruitment staff prior to the AFL National Draft, displays efficacy in assisting to select athletes with the potential for success. Finally, the efficacy of talent selection criteria can be established by demonstrating their relationship with future match performance.
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