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The VAFA Study: How Divisions Compared

The VAFA Study: How Divisions Compared

Do athletes in the high-level divisions really stand out against those in lower divisions?

The Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) is home to former Australian Football League (AFL) athletes, semi-professional local competitors and footballers who play for fun and leisure. With such a diverse participation base, it’s expected to see varied results of activity and performance profiles. But do the GPS profiles really vary greatly between divisions? The comparisons may surprise you.

Before diving into the results, it’s important to note that GPS outputs only paint one part of the picture. For example, it is known in AFL, that Total Distance can be influenced by environmental factors such extreme heat. As a result, athletes cover less distance. Why does this occur? It could be said that players are less motivated when it’s hot, or, it could be due to the fact that athletes are trying to preserve energy for higher intensity efforts later on. Every performance is factored by its own context and determining factors which play a key role in the outcome. In order to completely understand overall performance, we must consider several variables such as: role/position, weather, match result, opponent’s performance and coaches’ assessment, to name a few.

When it comes to measuring overall training data (as shown below), the aim of the exercise is to assess whether the training intensity or output is matching that of a game. It may be worth segmenting data to individual drills to gain a deeper understanding of training vs match demands. You could also take your analysis one step further and assess positional demands (eg. Rucks and Backs) for training vs match day outputs (check out GameTraka’s Live Demo, to see how you can use GPS technology to do just that).

SPT ran an analysis of pre-season training GPS outputs of VAFA teams from Premier, Premier B, Premier C, Division 1, Division 2 and Division 4. Players of a broad range of athletic ability were tracked with the SPT2 device and were involved with a mix of technical/tactical drills and match simulation.

Here’s what we found after comparing the results across 5 key performance metrics:

  • Overall, there was an upward trend relating to Total Distance, Hard Running and Sprint distance as the level of competition increased.
  • There were no real differences when it came to Work Rate (m/min) across all levels of competition. This is interesting to note as Work Rate is a strong indicator of Intensity.
  • There were slight differences when it came to the average of a squad’s top speed.
  • The largest differences were observed when it came to Hard Running and Sprint distance for Premier and Premier B clubs compared to Division 1 and 4.

SPT makes elite performance data and analytics available to semi-professional and amateur leagues. With the ability to track, Total Distance, Top Speed, Hard Running, Sprint Efforts, Impacts and Work Rate coaches and teams of all levels can pinpoint room for improvement and find whether players are best suited for their allocated positions.

Gone are the days when coaches based their training strategies on guesswork. SPT’s GPS analytics are easy to understand and can be viewed in real-time, making the player management process straightforward and actionable. Click here to explore the technology that has helped Aussie Rules teams refine their game-day preparation and rank up the ladder.