Physical Preparation Factors That Influence Technical and Physical Match Performance in Professional Australian Football

Ryan, S., Coutts, A.J., Hocking, J., Dillon, P.A., Whitty, A., Kempton, T.

To examine the collective influence of a range of physical preparation elements on selected performance measures during Australian football match-play.

Prospective, longitudinal.

Data were collected from 34 professional Australian football players from the same club during the 2016 AFL competition season. Match activity profiles, acute (7-day) and chronic (3-week) training load were collected via GPS devices. Training response was measured by well-being questionnaires completed prior to the main training session each week. Maximal aerobic running speed (MAS) was estimated by a two-kilometer time-trial conducted during preseason. Coach ratings were collected from the senior coach and four assistants after each match on a 5-point Likert scale. Player ratings were obtained from a commercial statistics provider. Fifteen matches were analyzed. Linear mixed models were constructed to examine the collective influence of training-related factors on four performance measures.

Muscle soreness had a small positive effect (ES: 0.12) on Champion Data rating points. 3-week average high-speed running (HSR) distance had a small negative effect (ES: 0.14) on coach ratings. MAS had large-to-moderate positive effects (ES: 0.55, 0.47) on relative total and HSR distances. Acute total and chronic average total running distance had small positive (ES: 0.13) and negative (ES: 0.14) effects on relative total and high-speed running (HSR) distance performed during matches, respectively.

MAS should be developed to enhance a player’s running performance during competition. Monitoring of physical preparation data may assist in reducing injury and illness and increasing player availability, but not enhance football performance.

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