This study explored the differences in match play between elite and semi-elite Australian football (AF) conceptualised through the lens of ecological dynamics. We sampled naturalistic constraints from match play across two AF competitions (elite and semi-elite) and heuristically classified them into task
classes. Data was extracted from 22 Australian Football League (AFL) games, and 18 semi-elite AF games, with a total of six constraints being sampled from each game. Match play within the AFL generated a greater percent of total disposals in general play within a processing time of 0–1s (d
= 1.24 (0.64–1.80)), a greater opposition density surrounding the ball carrier (d
= 0.82 (0.26–1.37)), and more disposals being performed while running (dynamic; d
= 0.89 (0.33–1.45)). This data highlights differences with regards to the informational sources available to players across both competition standards to inform their movement choices. Specifically, a greater proportion of disposals within the AFL appear to be shaped by pronounced temporal and spatial constraints relative to a semi-elite competition. Coaches are encouraged to consider these results when developing representative training activities for both AFL and prospective AFL players.
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