A method to assess the influence of individual player performance distribution on match outcome in team sports
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This study developed a method to determine whether the distribution of individual player performances can be modelled to explain match outcome in team sports, using Australian Rules football as an example. Player-recorded values (converted to a percentage of team total) in 11 commonly reported performance indicators were obtained for all regular season matches played during the 2014 Australian Football League season, with team totals also recorded. Multiple features relating to heuristically determined percentiles for each performance indicator were then extracted for each team and match, along with the outcome (win/loss). A generalised estimating equation model comprising eight key features was developed, explaining match outcome at a median accuracy of 63.9% under 10-fold cross-validation. Lower 75th, 90th and 95th percentile values for team goals and higher 25th and 50th percentile values for disposals were linked with winning. Lower 95th and higher 25th percentile values for Inside 50s and Marks, respectively, were also important contributors. These results provide evidence supporting team strategies which aim to obtain an even spread of goal scorers in Australian Rules football. The method developed in this investigation could be used to quantify the importance of individual contributions to overall team performance in team sports.
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