Fremantle players in a huddle and (inset) Traits Insights founder Dan Pelchen. Pictures: AFL Photos/Traits Insights

FREMANTLE and Melbourne are among the first AFL clubs to have joined forces with analytics company Traits Insights as clubs look to power ahead by gaining an advantage with how they use data and new technologies.

Traits is a player profiling platform used towards talent identification by recruiting and list management teams, as well as by coaching staffs to develop players already at clubs.

The Dockers are using the platform as part of their whole club football practices, including recruiting and individual development plans, while the Demons' AFLW program has been using Traits to assist in talent identification, development and squad planning.

Founded and developed by former Collingwood data scientist Dan Pelchen, who also worked at Chelsea Football Club in the Premier League where he introduced the model, Traits is gaining traction among global clientele as AFL teams seek areas to find an edge.

"Traits has a broad range of use-cases within AFL clubs – from talent ID in the under-18s, mature age recruitment and player trading, to talent development in state leagues and the AFL itself," Pelchen told

"We are seeing clubs use the platform differently at different points of the season across both the men and women programs. As a communication tool first and foremost, Traits is there to provide meaningful insights and facilitate any objective discussion football experts may want to have around a player in real-time." 


Pelchen said the customisability of Traits to club-specific language and criteria is key so that each team's platform is unique to them and fit-for-purpose. This allows the platform, and insights drawn to be tailored to each club's priorities and in line with what they value most in the way they are trying to play.

"Traits seeks to use data insights to elevate the football expertise of decision makers at clubs, not counteract or replace it. With this in mind, Traits enables clubs to tailor the 'weightings' of each individual metric in their sophisticated framework that builds up to ultimately calculate a player's overall rating," Pelchen said.

Since launching in late 2022, Traits has been picked up by AFL teams, in European soccer and international cricket, and was backed by a group of elite athletes through investment from APEX Capital earlier this year, a group of investors including a number of high profile English Premier League players.

Former North Melbourne player Ed Vickers-Willis has recently joined as the company's strategy and growth lead based in London, while Adelaide high performance boss, and former Arsenal FC director of high performance, Darren Burgess is on Traits' advisory board.

Ed Vickers-Willis in action during North Melbourne's clash against Brisbane in round 12, 2020. Picture: Getty Images

Teams have access to tens of thousands of player profiles within the platform and users can find, compare and track each individual's strengths and weaknesses as football experts at clubs dial up their value and application of analytics in the decision-making process.

For instance, Traits' 'similarity index' feature can instantly compare draft prospects in their under-18 season to current AFL players, or AFL players when they were going through the draft process.

Comparing last year's No.1 pick Harley Reid in his under-18 season against Dustin Martin's 2017 Brownlow Medal year at Richmond or Patrick Cripps' 2022 Brownlow season we can see the impact analytics can have in making complex data more intuitive at AFL clubs. 

Harley Reid under pressure from Marcus Windhager during the R12 match between West Coast and St Kilda at Optus Stadium on June 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Traits' ratings shows clear evidence of the similarities in power with Martin and scoreboard impact with both Brownlow medallists, yet highlights how Reid showed greater strength aerially, with Cripps and Martin ahead in receives and link-up play. 

"While the rating of Reid in the Coates Talent League, calculated by benchmarking players against players of the same position in the same competition, will be relatively high, we can assess how his profile matches up to Dusty and Cripps in the AFL and also how Reid has translated his player strengths and traits into the way he is now playing in the AFL," Pelchen said.