Evolving peak period, match movement, and performance demands in elite women's Australian football.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2021, 24, (7), pp. 683-688
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Objectives: Given the dearth of research available on the elite women’s Australian football (AFLW) competition, this study aimed to observe the position-specific peak movement demands of AFLW players and assess whether any seasonal changes have occurred in movement- or performance-based metrics over the initial three years of competition. Design: Observational longitudinal design. Methods: Data were collected on one team across the initial three seasons of the AFLW competition. Global position system units were used to obtain the movement demands while performance metrics were obtained from an external statistical provider. Peak movement demands were determined using a rolling period analysis of 1−10 min durations. Mixed models were used to assess the influence of season and position on movement- and performance-based metrics. Results: Peak period high speed running (HSR, >14.4 km/h), but not total distance (TD), differed between playing positions, with midfielders covering the greatest peak period movements (p < 0.01). No seasonal changes were observed for peak periods of TD or HSR for any positions. Various mean running movements observed seasonal changes and positional differences (p < 0.01), albeit with small effect sizes. No performance-based metric differed by position. Seasonal changes were observed for handballs and uncontested possessions only (p < 0.01), with trivial effect sizes. Conclusions: The small differences in on-field movement patterns and performance characteristics of AFLW players observed across seasons and between positional groups gives confidence that practitioners can continue to prescribe whole team rather than position-specific movement and technical training. External factors such as modification to competition structure and rules, or a change in team focus, may mask developments in this competition and warrants continued investigation.
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