Contested possessions and inside 50s are the two most important statistics in getting players drafted to the AFL, a study by university researchers has found.
The study relied on an analysis of players from the WA State Academy in 2013 and 2014, finding those who were drafted gathered an average of 7.5 contested possessions per game at the national under-18s carnival.
Players who weren’t drafted averaged 4.1 contested possessions per game.
The drafted players also kicked the ball inside their attacking 50m zone 4.1 times per game, while the players who weren’t drafted only recorded an average of 1.3 inside-50s per game.
Study authors Carl Woods, Christopher Joyce and Sam Robertson examined all statistics for the 55 players in the WA State Academy in 2013 and 2014, finding that contested possessions and inside-50s were more likely to get a player drafted than any other statistic.
“Conversely, the physical match activity profiles of drafted and non-drafted U18 players did not appear to differ, suggesting that drafted players may be more strategically advanced, and as such, do not have to rely upon their physical abilities to perform at a high standard,” they found.
“These results have important training and/or game plan design considerations for developmental coaches attempting to improve the draft prospects of aspiring junior AF players.”
Peel Thunder talent manager John Deitz said the quality of delivery when a player kicked the ball into his forward line was important.
“I firmly believe if there’s a kid who can win the ball himself and he can hit a target inside 50, they’re worth their weight in gold because the average player struggles to do that,” Deitz said.
West Perth Football Club talent development manager Casey Haw said he did not believe these were the only indicators of whether a player had draftable qualities.
Of this year’s top five draft prospects, which were rated by afl.com, only three averaged more than 7.5 contested possessions per game, while none averaged more than 4.1 inside-50s.