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Understanding effective tactics in Australian football using network analysis
journal contributionposted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Chris YoungChris Young, Wei LuoWei Luo, Paul Gastin, Jerry LaiJerry Lai, Dan DwyerDan Dwyer
Social network analysis (SNA) has been applied in soccer and basketball to assess how a team shares possession of the ball, which could be considered as an aspect of teamwork. The analysis of teamwork could provide the opportunity to identify tactical characteristics of team performance that are associated with winning. Ball possession data from each match in the 2009–2016 Australian Football League (AFL) seasons were analysed using SNA. Seven network measures (edge count, edge density, transitivity, average path length, degree centrality, betweenness centrality and eigenvector centrality) were derived. Significant differences (p < 0.05) were identified in the characteristics of teamwork (i.e. network measures) for each AFL team in the 2016 season. Further, the median value of all network measures was different between each AFL season (2009–2016). There were differences between teams that won and lost matches for all network measures and moderate relationships with score margin. Finally, there were weak correlations between all network measures and final ladder position. These results suggest that effective passing within a team is important and that a team should maximise the number of trios in their passing network. This work provides novel insights regarding optimal teamwork strategies in AF.