AFL Performance Recovery TipsCategoriesPodcast Recovery Weekly Updates

Episode 64 – Top 10 Tips for AFL Performance Recovery

Performance Recovery

AFL players know that performance recovery is a key factor in success. But it’s not always easy to achieve in the midst of a grueling schedule. That’s why we want to help equip players with the tools needed for effective recovery with our presentation on AFL Performance Recovery Tips.

Our presentation will focus on the physical and mental demands of AFL, and how to best manage them for successful recoveries. We’ll be covering topics such as measuring what you want to improve, coping strategies for mental and emotional stress, measuring your HRV, meditation techniques, and active recovery methods.

We don’t just want to give you a few tips – we’re going to arm you with valuable knowledge so you can stay ahead of the game when it comes to performance recovery with our AFL Performance Recovery Tips. So, get ready for an engaging and witty presentation that will help you tackle the physical and mental demands of AFL like never before!

Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to supercharge your recovery capability with our AFL Performance Recovery Tips – join us today!

Happy recovering! 🙂

Highlights of the episode:

  • Measure what you want to improve
  • Coping strategies for mental and emotional stress
  • Measure your HRV
  • Meditation
  • Active recovery

In the fast-paced world of the Australian Football League (AFL), optimizing performance and ensuring a swift recovery are paramount for athletes striving to excel. AFL Performance Recovery Tips offer a comprehensive guide to enhancing your game, both on and off the field. In this article, we will delve into effective strategies that can make a significant difference in your performance outcomes.

Coping Strategies for Optimal Performance

Managing the mental and emotional aspects of sports is as crucial as physical preparation. Coping strategies act as a shield against the inevitable stressors that athletes encounter. Be it the pressure of a high-stakes game or off-field responsibilities, having effective mechanisms to handle stress is key. These strategies prevent a surge in heart rate, cortisol levels, and blood pressure, all of which can impact your overall health and performance.

Measurement Techniques: Monitoring Progress

The old adage “what you measure, you improve” holds true in AFL performance as well. Just as a person trying to lose weight tracks progress through scales, athletes too can benefit from measuring specific indicators. Consider heart rate variability, a valuable tool for gauging the body’s response to stress. By tracking this metric, athletes can gain insights into their recovery state and adapt their training regimen accordingly. Keeping a subjective diary of how you feel at the start and end of the day can also provide valuable data. Over time, patterns may emerge that shed light on the impact of different factors on your performance.

Meditation: Nurturing Mental Resilience

Meditation isn’t just a practice for the yogis; it holds immense potential for enhancing athletic performance. Engaging in regular meditation sessions contributes to mental clarity, focus, and emotional stability. In the high-pressure environment of AFL, these attributes can be game-changers. Meditation not only equips athletes to handle stress but also cultivates the ability to concentrate during intense training sessions. By incorporating mindfulness techniques, athletes can harness the power of the mind to overcome challenges and maintain a competitive edge.

Active Recovery: The Power of Movement

When it comes to recovery, the body thrives on movement. Active recovery is a valuable approach that promotes blood flow, reduces muscle stiffness, and accelerates healing. Engaging in low-intensity exercises such as yoga, Pilates, or leisurely walks aids in flushing out metabolic waste and supplying nutrients to tired muscles. These activities should leave you feeling rejuvenated, not fatigued. The emphasis here is on gentle, restorative movement that restores the range of motion compromised during intense gameplay. Integrating active recovery into your routine can significantly contribute to long-term performance gains.

In conclusion, AFL Performance Recovery Tips encompass a holistic approach to elevating your performance trajectory. By honing coping strategies, utilizing measurement techniques, embracing meditation, and adopting active recovery practices, athletes can unlock their full potential and excel in the dynamic world of AFL. Remember, success on the field is not solely determined by physical prowess; the mind and body must work in harmony to achieve greatness.


Listen: iTunes | Spotify


AFL Athletic Development 1000x565 1CategoriesRecovery

AFL Athletic Development

A popular method to transform yourself into a better football player is to improve your athletic ability, not simply by playing more football games. AFL strength & conditioning programs will help you run faster for longer, change directions faster, and bring your game to the next level.

Resistance training can help you achieve your goals, whether you’re a professional AFL player wanting to better your opportunities in the AFL system, a NAB league player training for the AFL combine, or a local league player wanting to prepare for the next level. strength & conditioning programs designed by AFL coach backed by research and an outstanding curriculum, assist football players to improve their speed, strength, and explosiveness. 

AFL strength & conditioning programs are specially geared to help you gain these benefits and more:  

1) Improve your speed, stamina, and repeat speed.

On the field, what’s the difference between excellent and great? Speed. Whether or not you make the cut is determined by appropriate movement methods, which can shave 0.2 seconds or even more off your 5-10-20 meter times. However, speed means little if you’re not operating efficiently. To increase synergy and speed, athletic training combines appropriate sprinting techniques with football drills like small-sided games.

The key to success in the AFL is not only being fast but also being able to reproduce those bursts of acceleration throughout the game, particularly late in the fourth quarter when it matters most. Having a unique grasp of how to improve a player’s “engine” and fill it with “horse power,” will set you apart from those who believe all it needs is a brisk jog around the pitch.

2) Improve your vertical leap and strength

What is the secret to attaining success in the AFL? In the fourth quarter, the elite dominate in terms of marking and tackling. Coaches who specialize in strength training develop programs that improve core strength, stability, and power output. This will provide you the upper hand in the game, allowing you to finish stronger and be more resilient than your rivals.

3) Have more balance and agility 

Incredible plays necessitate more than simply physical prowess. Our Coaches will improve your mobility with conditioning training regimens that improve foot quickness and lateral movement. Weight distribution, balance, agility, and lateral cutting prowess all improve as a result.

4) Lessen the chances of an injury

You can’t play the game if you’re on the sidelines or recovering from a reoccurring injury. With strength training, injury prevention exercises, and movement analysis, you’ll be able to help increase your likelihood to stay in the game and play it the way you want. Our AFL strength and conditioning programs can help you reduce your chance of injury. A specialized program that helps reduce the frequency of acute and overuse injuries is the main of a strength and conditioning program. 

AFL Physical preparation 

For football clubs and their players’ health, comprehensive strength and conditioning program is critical.

Is your team fit enough to outrun a faltering foe in the final quarter of a game? Because of their core strength, are your athletes able to hold their own in battles and blast through tackles? Do others comment on how fortunate your team has been in escaping serious injuries?

Strength and conditioning programs are implemented into junior football and are an important part of preparing your physique for competitive football. Sample strength and conditioning regimens used by the AIS/AFL academy are offered below for teams to apply at their respective clubs all through the four parts of the season:

  • Off season (8 weeks)
  • First half of pre-season (8 weeks)
  • Second half of pre-season (12 weeks)
  • In-season

These programs are designed for athletes between the ages of 16 and 18. The administration of these programs should preferably be overseen by a strength and conditioning professional. This program’s elements may be applicable to senior football. This program, however, should not be applied to players under the age of 16.

Off-season (8 weeks)

Five programs coaches can implement throughout the off-season:

General Strength 1

  • Push up 
  • Dumbbell single-arm rows 
  • Plate overhead step-up
  • Alternating shoulder press
  • Lateral squat to figure 4 position 

General Strength 2

  • Dumbbell bench press 
  • Single leg banded Adduction 
  • Stability ball single leg squat
  • Dumbbell push press 
  • Reverse grip pull up


  • Single leg calf raise 
  • Single leg banded hip hitch 
  • Stability board half squat

Core Strength

  • Plank 
  • Hollow hold 
  • Side plank 
  • Bridge 


  • Calf stretch
  • Soleus stretch
  • Frog stretch 
  • Quadriceps stretch

The first half of pre-season (8 weeks)

Five programs coaches can implement throughout the first half of the pre-season:

General Strength 1

  • Dumbbell Bench press
  • Bodyweight inverted rows 
  • Dumbbell hang power clean
  • Reverse lunge 
  • Single leg rdl 

General Strength 2

  • Barbell hip thrusts 
  • Dumbbell bicep curl press and press 
  • Hammer grip pull-ups 
  • Box squat 
  • Bench press


  • Single leg squat
  • Single leg Balance (eyes closed) 
  • Stability board half squat
  • Jumps balance 
  • Lateral bound balance

Core Strength

  • Plank 
  • Hollow hold 
  • Banded Pallof press 
  • Banded wood chop 
  • Side plank with leg abduction 


  • Lower back stretch 
  • Soleus stretch
  • Hamstrings sit & reach 
  • Quadriceps stretch
  • Couch stretch

The second half of pre-season (12 weeks)

Five programs coaches can implement throughout the second half of the pre-season in the lead-up the start of the season:

General Strength 1

  • Box jumps
  • Push up claps 
  • Single leg depth jumps stabilization 
  • Bench press 
  • Wide grip lat pulldown

General Strength 2

  • Bench pull  
  • Smith machine figure 4 switches 
  • Smith rack pull up horizontal 
  • Single leg swissball hammy curl 
  • Dips

Trunk strength 

  • Hollow rock 
  • Dumbbell pull over 
  • Side-lying hip abduction 
  • Stability ball rollout 
  • Stability ball rotation 


  • Quadriceps stretch 
  • Hip flexor quadriceps stretch 
  • Hip flexor stretch 
  • Iliotibial band torso side bend stretch


Six programs coaches can implement throughout the competition phase of the season:

Early-week moderate intensity

  • Half squat 
  • Incline chest press 
  • Reverse grip pull up 
  • Single leg bridge 

Mid-week strength

  • Deep squat 
  • Bench press 
  • Trap bar Deadlift 
  • Narrow grip lat pulldown

Core strength

  • Stability ball circuit 
  • Side prone side stabilization 
  • Side-lying stabilization hip abduction


  • Shoulder stretch 
  • Calf stretch 
  • Soleus stretch 
  • Neck stretch 
  • Groin stretch

End of week strength

  • Med ball throw 
  • Single leg squat 
  • Bench press
  • Weighted pull up

Follow Prepare Like A Pro Facebook Page and Prepare Like A Pro YouTube Channel to get regular updates from Melbourne strength and conditioning experts.

Prepare like a pro blog Heart rate variability HRVCategoriesRecovery

Heart Rate Variability (HRV)

What is HRV?

HRV is the time difference between each R–R interval; that is, the time difference from heartbeat to heartbeat. HRV tracking shows that the time between each heartbeat is not the same each time; it varies with every beat. Hence, the term heart rate ‘variability’.

rr-intervalHRV has been shown to be a predictor of illness in elite athletes. However, its ability to predict injury is yet to be validated in humans. It wasn’t so long ago that HRV tracking was only possible using expensive medical equipment, such as an electrocardiogram. Now, HRV can be reliably measured using health-tracking technology such as smartphone applications, heart rate monitors and finger-wave pulse sensors. This technology can accurately measure HRV during ultra-short durations (1 minute) in either a supine, seated or standing position.

Todays readinessWhile many metrics are used to measure HRV, the most common and (and arguably most reliable) is  the root-mean-square difference of successive normal R–R intervals (RMSSD). The RMSSD measure is the most valid and most-researched measure and is therefore practical to apply to sporting settings.

How HRV is used to determine recovery status

It is important to remember that HRV provides critical information about the function of the ANS and that it is also the most reliable measurement of ANS function. An increase in HRV represents a positive adaptation/better recovery status, while a reduction in HRV reflects stress and worse recovery status. Having said that, it is also important to note that higher is not always better, and lower is not always worse (this will be discussed below). But as a golden rule of thumb, the higher the athletes HRV, the fitter/better recovered they are, and vice versa.

The ANS comprises two branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The easiest way to distinguish the differences between these two branches is to associate fight or flight responses with the SNS and rest and digest responses with the PSNS. Therefore, the SNS increases heart rate and the PSNS slows it down.

How HRV is used to determine improved wellbeing

Numerous studies provide evidence that coherence training consisting of intentional activation of positive emotions, paired with HRV coherence feedback, facilitates significant improvements in wellness.

How HRV used to determine
How HRV used to determine

5 tips for tracking HRV

1. Ensure consistency between readings

For more accurate and relevant comparisons, consistent and repeatable measurements should be performed as much as possible. This will minimise confounding factors or misleading results. When using HRV trends to make important health and performance decisions and assessment, athletes must ensure they are comparing ‘apples to apples’ and not ‘apples to oranges’. Factors that affect repeatability and comparability include:

  • Time of day – Athletes should attempt to target the same 1-hour window each day, as circadian rhythm has a significant effect on HRV.
  • Body position – Athletes should ensure they use the same measuring position (i.e., sitting, standing or laying) every time, as torso angle has been proven to affect HRV.
  • Activity before HRV reading – Exercising, conversing, eating and caffeine intake are common factors that affect HRV. For optimum comparability between readings, athletes should perform the same activities between readings (e.g., always take baseline readings soon after waking up).

2. Strive for a low reading in the right setting

Chronically low HRV is, as a general rule, not what athletes should be striving for. However, a single or handful of low HRV readings is not always bad. In fact, strategic acute drops in HRV can be favourable, as long as HRV recovers to normal or better levels. Listed below are situations in which a low acute HRV is desirable.

  • A slightly lower HRV compared to the athlete’s baseline (associated with increased sympathetic nervous system activity) on a competition day can be favourable, depending on the activity.
  • An acute HRV drops after an intense workout or series of workouts that returns back to normal or better within a few days or weeks’ time can indicate good health.
  • A sudden drop in HRV after a change in nutrition, training method or lifestyle can indicate that the change is working.

3. Do not always assume a high reading is good

Just as a low HRV reading is not always bad, a high HRV reading is not always good. If a single HRV measurement is abnormally high compared to the athlete’s baseline or norm, then it can mean that something is off. Listed below are examples of when a high reading does not indicate better health.

  • When in a state of hyper recovery. This indicates that the body has accumulated too much stress, to the point that it can no longer effectively handle the stress and the body’s resources become depleted. In this situation, the body might force itself into a hyper-recovery mode  to protect itself. This state is not ideal for long-term health or performance.
  • When under continuous low-grade stress. These constant stressors can cause HRV to be higher in the short term because the body is constantly trying to recover. If an athlete’s HRV is high but they frequently feel fatigued or drained, then they might be exposed to chronic low-grade stress that is constantly consuming energy and resources.

4. Extrapolate multiple HRV readings

The body is in a constant state of flux as it responds to stressors and undergoes recovery processes. As such, one short HRV measurement might be skewed and not capture the body’s ‘normal’ state. One measurement could only capture a good day or a bad day and may not reflect the athlete’s norm. For example, a person’s HRV the day after staying up all night drinking alcohol will be very different to their HRV on a night that they go to bed early and don’t drink any alcohol.

When trying to understand HRV, it is important to take several days’ worth of measurements within a week (ideally over several weeks). This ensures that the single day is not an outlier. This also increases confidence in the baseline values that can then be used to more effectively set health and performance goals and to assess progress.

5. Use a heart rate monitor, not a wrist-based PPG monitor

An inaccurate measurement means an inaccurate (and invalid) HRV value. Accuracy is critical when when using HRV as a tool for training or health. Heart rate monitors like the Fitbit Charge or other wrist-based PPG or pulse-oximetry monitors are not compatible with measuring HRV. This is because many of these devices were not designed with the intention of measuring the more detailed heart rate fluctuations needed to calculate true HRV. They either do not record the R-R intervals or they provide smoothed, averaged or altered R-R intervals that remove the variability that comprises HRV.

Although these devices are suitable for measuring basic heart rate, there is no such thing as a ‘quick and dirty’, ‘good enough’ or ‘almost accurate’ HRV measurement. HRV values are a measure of normally imperceptible changes in heartbeat activity that often correlate with activity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). A quick and dirty measurement from an inaccurate device yields a completely useless HRV value that should not be used for decision making.

There are many new HR devices with bold promises and the lure of convenience. Although wearable technology is progressing quickly, athletes should still be wary of these devices. Due diligence is important for understanding if the device is compatible with HRV calculations.

heart rate variabilityCategoriesRecovery


heart rate variabilityHeart rate variability what is it?

Research suggests its the best non-invasive objective measure for monitoring recovery and general wellbeing.

How does it work?

First thing in the morning you place your fingertip in the core sense device for 2 minutes while it analyses your pulse.

After the reading, you get an instant report from the free Elite HRV app giving you feedback on whether you’re in a parasympathetic dominant state ie (relaxed) sympathetic dominant state ie (stressed) or your nervous system is in balance.

From a physical preparation point of view, this takes the guesswork out of load management and allows for a more individualized approach when adjusting the athlete’s training program.

I’ve used Elite HRV personally for the last 5 years and It’s helped increase my awareness around physical and mental/emotional stress and how to influence my nervous system for the desired state.

More recently I have completed the Elite HRV foundation course and I’m applying the methods with the athletes I work with at Prepare Like A Pro.

I love it for the objective data it provides not only to guide training but also to monitor how the athletes are coping during the pandemic.

For more questions feel free to give me DM


Best Cardio Exercise

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