Can elite Australian football player's game performance be predicted?

J. Fahey-Gilmour, J. Heasman, B. Rogalski, B. Dawson, P. Peeling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

In elite Australian football (AF) many studies have investigated individual player performance using a variety of outcomes (e.g. team selection, game running, game rating etc.), however, none have attempted to predict a player's performance using combinations of pre-game factors. Therefore, our aim was to investigate the ability of commonly reported individual player and team characteristics to predict individual Australian Football League (AFL) player performance, as measured through the official AFL player rating (AFLPR) (Champion Data). A total of 158 variables were derived for players (n = 64) from one AFL team using data collected during the 2014-2019 AFL seasons. Various machine learning models were trained (cross-validation) on the 2014-2018 seasons, with the 2019 season used as an independent test set. Model performance, assessed using root mean square error (RMSE), varied (4.69-5.03 test set RMSE) but was generally poor when compared to a singular variable prediction (AFLPR pre-game rating: 4.72 test set RMSE). Variation in model performance (range RMSE: 0.14 excusing worst model) was low, indicating different approaches produced similar results, however, glmnet models were marginally superior (4.69 RMSE test set). This research highlights the limited utility of currently collected pre-game variables to predict week-to-week game performance more accurately than simple singular variable baseline models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-78
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Computer Science in Sport
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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