How to Execute an Effective Primer Session

In any sport, the ability to execute properly in competition comes down to mastering the basics. In American football, this means perfecting your playbook and practicing your plays until they become second nature. Baseball players work on their batting and fielding techniques until they can make split-second decisions without thinking. And so on…  

AFL players are no different, and in order to properly activate their innate athleticism, their game-day AFL preparation starts with a primer session. This is a practice drill that helps them get ready for the match by focusing on the basic skills required to play AFL. Let’s take a look at how you can execute an effective primer session.

What is a Primer Session?

A primer session is a practice drill that helps AFL players focus on the necessary skills required before playing an AFL game. The session typically lasts for 30 minutes to an hour, and it is designed to help players warm up and get ready for the match. The session usually starts with a light jog around the oval, followed by some stretching and basic skill work.

How Important is a Primer Session?

A primer session is important for two reasons. First, it helps players focus on getting their mind and body in a proper state to play AFL. This includes things like handballing, marking, and kicking. Second, it helps players warm-up for the match. The session gets the body moving and prepares players for the physical demands of an AFL game.

How do I Execute an Effective Primer Session?

There are four things you need to do to execute an effective primer session:

  1. Focus on the basics
  2. Incorporate game-like situations
  3. Move explosively in the gym 
  4. Keep it short and sweet

 Let’s take a closer look at each of these points.

  1. Focus on the basics

In any primer session—whether it’s for pros or for youth training—it’s important to focus on the basics. This means handballing, marking, and kicking. Players should take the time to practice these skills in a controlled environment so they can execute them properly during the match. One excellent drill that can significantly aid in the athletic development of AFL players is “Kicking in Threes.” 

During practice sessions, players might form groups of three to work on various types of kicking techniques. Coaches can make this activity more interesting by enabling players to use their opposing foot or by allowing them to kick to a lead.

  1. Incorporate game-like situations

In order to properly prepare for an AFL match, players need to simulate game-like situations in their primer sessions. This means incorporating drills that mimic the pace, pressure, and intensity of an actual game. Players can do this by practicing in small groups, playing full-ground games, or using a target.

5-on-2 Maintain Possession is an excellent practice for teaching players how to deal with pressure and keep possession of the ball. Increase the number of participants on both sides to make this exercise more interesting.

  1. Move explosively in the gym 

In order to prime the body for combat and high-intensity efforts, players must use proper techniques. This means taking the time to develop and practice the correct primer routine in the gym or on the field. Players can improve their readiness to perform by attending coaching clinics or by working with the strength & conditioning experts. To help athletes employ drills like repeat hurdle jumps or 20-30-meter sprints. Athletes lifting is also encouraged with movements like the med ball throws and landmine power rotations being available to get the athletes to a point where they feel good and ready to go! 

Watch this video explaining how we run primer sessions:


  1. Keep it short and sweet

AFL players need to be properly rested and hydrated before a match, so it’s important to keep primer sessions short and sweet. Players should focus on quality over quantity, and they should only do as much as their bodies can handle. The last thing you want is for players to feel tired or sore before a match. In addition, priming sessions need to be conducted 24 hours before the game. End the primer session with some light jogging and stretching to help players cool down and get ready for the match.


An effective primer session is an important part of preparing for an AFL match. By focusing on the basics, incorporating game-like situations, using familiar explosive movements in the gym, and keeping it short and sweet, players can be well prepared to take the field. If you want to learn more about proper AFL strength and conditioning, and preparation, get in touch with Prepare Like A Pro

We are a  premier training program for footy players, founded by Jack McLean in 2020. It’s a place where you’ll learn cutting-edge physical preparation strategies to optimize resilience and peak performance. Our coaches have worked with AFL Clubs like Hawthorn, Melbourne, St.kilda, GWS, Adelaide, Westcoast, Geelong, and with up-and-coming footballers like Nick Daicos, Jacob Van Rooyen, Josh Fahey, Cooper Murley, Paul Curtis, and Sam Hayes.


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