AFL football is a sport that is predominately technical and tactical; however, it is also incredibly physically challenging to play. As such, becoming the best Aussie Rules footballer player isn’t just about playing more football, but also about physically being the best.
AFL is played on the largest grounds in the world. Therefore, the game demands that players possess elite running capacities. During games, players wear GPS devices that track their walking, jogging, running and sprinting distances. As this technology becomes increasingly reliable, it allows trainers to better understand the running demands being placed on players. Not only do AFL players need to be aerobically running fit, but the sport also requires consistent high-intensity efforts (similar to soccer) such as repeat speed & acceleration. Players require training programs that helps them to master both so that they can effectively cover the ground.
AFL has the highest number of players competing on the ground (36) at one time. This makes finding space to effectively dispose of the ball challenging and requires athletes to be agile, balanced and strong in all different planes of motion. The game is played in a 360-degree zone and so a player can come under contact from any direction. These two factors combine to mean that physical contact from tackles, bumps and aerial collisions are frequent, creating a physically chaotic state of play. The fact there are no weight divisions means that it is critical that players’ training programs help them to develops sufficient body armour to protect their body from contact injuries such as fractures and their brain from whiplash or concussion.
Aerial contests created by long kicks and frequent ball-ups require athletes to either be tall or to have elite jumping ability so that they can outreach their opponents. It is crucial that players develop their jumping on the run, standing still and on either leg. Strength conditioning and more specific plyometrics programs can help footballers to achieve their full jumping potential while reducing the likelihood of injury.
The ball used in AFL is shaped like an egg. This unusual shape leads to unpredictable bounces. To be able to easily bend over to pick up the ball cleanly and at speed in congested situations, players must be sufficiently mobile and flexible, with quick reflexes. A program that develops players’ flexibility, as well as mobility and strength, will have them well positioned to reach the ball first during a contest.
Prepare Like A Pro offers training programs for AFL football players of all ages and abilities and in all leagues. Our programs help players to develop the full range of skills required so that they can achieve their full athletic potential and protect themselves from injury. With the programs offered by Prepare Like A Pro, players are prepared to take on the most physically demanding sport in the world.
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.