Modelling player performance data for organisational decision support in professional Australian Rules football

McIntosh, Sam (2020) Modelling player performance data for organisational decision support in professional Australian Rules football. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Within contemporary professional team sport organisations, operational decisions are increasingly becoming informed by objective data. Within the elite competition of Australian Rules football, the Australian Football League (AFL), an abundance of player and team performance data is collected and reported. However, the extent to which this data has been used in the team sport notational literature to inform organisational decision-making is limited. This thesis utilises a particular algorithmic player rating system, the ‘AFL Player Ratings’, and the subcategories used to construct this metric. Each study of this thesis models various applications of player performance data and presents it in a format for the purpose of providing organisational decision support to AFL clubs. The first study of this thesis establishes the validity of the AFL Player Ratings system. The second study identifies how performance profiles created from the proportion of rating points in each AFL Player Rating subcategory can be used to classify players into a priori determined player role categories. Additionally, it determines a level of similarity between the playing styles of each individual player competing within the AFL. The third study developed two separate models to objectively benchmark player performance, and to identify stages of peak performance and specific breakpoints longitudinally. The final study of the thesis investigated the relationship between subjective ratings of performance and basic player performance indicators, in order to gain an understanding of the extent to which human decisions are related to measurable aspects of a player’s performance. It also looked to compare subjective and objective ratings of player performance. Each of these studies address a different use of the data operationally, and provide a framework for clubs competing in the AFL. It outlines how objective player performance data can be modelled to inform various aspects of team and player individuality, value and potential, with a specific focus on supporting team selection, player drafting and recruitment.

Additional Information

This thesis includes 2 published articles for which access is restricted due to copyright (Chapters 3-4). The accepted manuscript has been included, and details of access to the published papers has been inserted in the thesis.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords thesis by publication; performance; Australian Rules football; Australian Football League; AFL; AFL Player Ratings system
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