In any sport, mastering the fundamentals is the key to excelling in competition. American football players perfect their playbook and refine their plays until they’re second nature. Baseball athletes tirelessly work on their batting and fielding techniques to make split-second decisions without hesitation. The same principles apply to AFL players. To unleash their innate athleticism and prepare for game day, they kick off with a “primer session.” This practice drill focuses on the essential skills required to excel in AFL. Let’s explore how to execute an effective primer session.
Understanding the Primer Session
A primer session is a dedicated practice drill that readies AFL players for their upcoming match. Typically lasting for 30 minutes to an hour, it serves as a warm-up routine. The session commences with a light jog around the oval, followed by stretching and fundamental skill work.
The Significance of a Primer Session
A primer session plays a pivotal role for two key reasons. Firstly, it primes the mind and body of players, helping them get into the right state for AFL gameplay. This entails honing skills such as handballing, marking, and kicking. Secondly, it serves as a warm-up for the physical rigors of an AFL game, preparing the players for the intense competition ahead.
Crafting an Effective Primer Session
To execute an effective primer session, you should focus on the following principles:
- Focus on the Basics: Whether you’re training professionals or young athletes, the basics should be the core of your primer session. Prioritize skills like handballing, marking, and kicking. Players need to practice these skills in a controlled environment, ensuring they execute them flawlessly during a match. A recommended drill for AFL players is “Kicking in Threes,” where players can work on various kicking techniques. This drill can be made more engaging by allowing players to use their non-dominant foot or by incorporating kicking to a leading player.
- Incorporate Game-Like Situations: To prepare effectively, it’s essential to simulate game-like situations during your primer session. This involves drills that mirror the pace, pressure, and intensity of an actual AFL game. Players can achieve this by practicing in small groups, engaging in full-ground games, or incorporating target-based exercises. For instance, “5-on-2 Maintain Possession” is a valuable drill for teaching players how to handle pressure and maintain ball possession.
- Explosive Gym Movements: Proper primer routines are critical to prepare players for the high-intensity demands of AFL games. To achieve this, players should use proper techniques and exercises. Attending coaching clinics or working with strength and conditioning experts can improve players’ readiness. Drills like repeat hurdle jumps and 20-30-meter sprints can enhance explosive movement. Weightlifting can also play a role, with exercises such as med ball throws and landmine power rotations contributing to players’ preparation.
- Keep It Short and Effective: Rest and hydration are crucial for AFL players before a match. Therefore, it’s essential to keep your primer sessions short and focused on quality rather than quantity. Players should only push themselves as much as their bodies can handle, preventing fatigue or soreness before the game. Primer sessions should be conducted 24 hours before the match, concluding with light jogging and stretching to help players cool down and prepare for the game.
Executing an effective primer session is a crucial aspect of preparing for AFL matches. By emphasizing the basics, integrating game-like situations, employing explosive movements, and keeping the session efficient, players can enter the field well-prepared. If you’re eager to explore comprehensive AFL strength and conditioning and preparation, don’t hesitate to connect with Prepare Like A Pro.
We are a premier training program for footy players, founded by Jack McLean in 2020. Here, you’ll gain insights into cutting-edge physical preparation strategies to optimize resilience and peak performance. Our coaches have worked closely with prominent AFL clubs like Hawthorn, Melbourne, St. Kilda, GWS, Adelaide, West Coast, and Geelong, and promising talents like Nick Daicos, Jacob Van Rooyen, Josh Fahey, Cooper Murley, Paul Curtis, and Sam Hayes.
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Jack McLean is the founder of Prepare Like a Pro. He loves coaching people so that they can reach their personal/professional goals and become the best that they can possibly be. He is currently the Strength & Rehab Coach of Melbourne Football Club and has worked as Strength & Conditioning Coach at Hawthorn Football Club. Jack is a Level 3 Australian Strength & Conditioning Association and Professional Coach and a Level 1 Australian Weightlifting Federation Coach.