How far do afl players run in a gameCategoriesBlog Training Program

How Far Do AFL Players Run In A Football Game? | Prepare Like a Pro

AFL players are some of the fittest athletes in the world. They need to be able to run long distances at high speeds, change direction quickly, and have the endurance to last for an entire game.

Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into playing AFL than just running. Players need to be able to think on their feet, make quick decisions, and jump high enough to catch the ball. But it’s still fascinating to think about how much distance they cover over the course of a match. 

There are some really fit players in the AFL, and it’s amazing what their bodies can do. Some players have even been known to cover up to 18 kilometers in a game! It just goes to show that if you want to be good at AFL, you need to be physically prepared to cover a lot of distance. 

So just how far do AFL players run in a football game?

Thanks to GPS technology, we now have a pretty good idea. AFL players cover an average of 12-14 kilometers per game, with some players running as much as 20 kilometers in a single match.

And it’s not just the amount of distance that AFL players cover that is impressive, it’s also the speed at which they do it. AFL players can reach speeds of up to 35 kilometers per hour when sprinting!

Hear from Harry Sheezel AFL 2022 Draft top 10 prospect about his preparation for Aussie rules football: 

AFL players typically run between 3 and 7 kilometers during in-season training sessions and 5 – 16 kilometers during pre-season training sessions. Interval sprinting is a key part of their conditioning, as it helps them develop the explosive speed and agility required for the game. AFL players typically do several short sprints (20-40 meters) at maximal effort, followed by a brief rest period. This type of training not only improves their on-field performance but also helps them build the endurance needed to play an entire game.

AFL players need to have a high level of aerobic fitness to be able to run around the oval for an extended period of time. AFL conditioning programs, therefore, need to include a lot of running, both long slow distances and shorter sprints, to build up the players’ aerobic capacity. 

Aerobic capacity can be improved by doing interval training, which involves periods of high-intensity activity followed by periods of lower-intensity activity or rest. This type of training helps the body to use oxygen more efficiently and therefore improves endurance. 

Incorporating fitness into training drills is a good way to keep players motivated and help them improve their aerobic capacity. For example, you could start a drill with a short burst of speed followed by a period of jogging or walking. This will help the players to get their heart rates up and then recover before going again. 

Increasing the intensity and duration of aerobic training over time will help players to improve their fitness levels and become better AFL players.

High-speed running is a key component of AFL training, as it helps players develop the necessary capacity to run up and down the ground. On average, AFL players will run between 300 and 600 at high speeds during in-season training sessions and anywhere from 500 to 3000 in pre-season sessions. This type of conditioning not only helps improve their on-field performance but also reduces the risk of injury.

Aerobic fitness testing is an important part of AFL player conditioning. By regularly assessing aerobic fitness, players and coaches can monitor training improvements and identify areas that need more focus.

There are a number of different tests that can be used to measure aerobic fitness in AFL players. Some of the most common include the beep test, yo-yo intermittent recovery test, and multistage shuttle run test.

The beep test is one of the most commonly used aerobic fitness tests in AFL. It involves running between two points 20 meters apart at increasing speeds, as dictated by a series of beeps. The level at which the player can no longer keep up with the beeps is their score.

The yo-yo intermittent recovery test is another popular option for AFL players. This test involves running back and forth between two points, with varying degrees of intensity. The aim is to see how quickly the player can recover from periods of high-intensity activity.

The multistage shuttle run test is another option that can be used to measure aerobic fitness in AFL players. This test involves running back and forth between two points, with the distance increasing each time. The aim is to see how far the player can run in a set period of time.

Overall, these tests are a good way to measure the aerobic fitness of AFL players and can help coaches and players alike to identify areas that need more focus. By regularly testing fitness levels, players can ensure that they are making progress and working towards their goals. 

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How to Train Specifically for Your PositionCategoriesBlog Training Program

How to train like an AFL Elite Midfielder | Prep Like A Pro

How to Train Specifically for Your Position
How to Train Specifically for Your Position

SPORT PROFILE FOR AN MALE AFL MIDFIELDER
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

The AFL elite male midfielder position demand can change due to many factors such as dimensions of the ground, rotations, weather, and even if the player is playing inside or outside midfield position.

However, there are similarities amongst this playing position, especially when compared to other position game profiles like a key forward and or defender. (13)

This sports profile will dive into detail about the recent changes in demand for an elite midfielder playing in the Australian Football League (AFL) over the last decade.

Due to the dynamic nature of the midfielder’s position and the sport itself, this report will look at four key areas of performance for a midfielder. These four key areas are Physical, mental, tactical, and technical, leaning on the most up-to-date research to back our claims and ultimately provide insight into how to optimally prepare a midfielder for high performance!

 

 Competition requirements

Physical

Aerobic capacity

Repeat acceleration

Individualised approach

The AFL game is certainly getting faster and players particularly midfielders are required to cover the further distance in the same amount of game time.

This article will take a closer look at recent scientific research conducted on AFL players and look closely at the physical, mental, technical, and tactical key performance indicators for midfielders.

Part of this is the fact that AFL midfielders are playing on after a mark a lot more regularly during a game. Due to the demand for the game to ‘flow’ better and allow for more scoring rule changes like less time taken for umpires to restart play or take a shot for a goal. Reducing the rest periods for the players and increasing the demand for midfielders to set up at a stoppage in less time, all while reducing the total rotations allowed by the team.

Compared to other positions on the field midfielders covered on average cover more total distance (4) and still, produce a high amount of high-intensity efforts 2nd only mobile forwards (10)

Midfielders’ aerobic capacity and repeat accelerations are critical for midfielders to be able to handle the high volume of total distance and repeat high-intensity efforts. The current research suggests programming high-intensity aerobic interval training to improve aerobic power, match running performance, and greater involvement in the play. (12)

Midfielders’ ability to recover between games is crucial to preventing injuries while ensuring players are recovering appropriately. Varying the load from week to week as is recommended from a team perspective is important, we also need to factor in each athlete’s profile. (12)

Fitness testing ie 2km time trial and repeat sprint test we can identify which of the squad midfielders are aerobic and which are anaerobic dominant. With this information in mind, we may look to adjust the training load by reducing the total volume run for the aerobic midfielders and look to maintain or increase running volumes for the aerobic-based midfielders.

This graph represents the effect fatigue has on the players as the quarter goes on from the start to the 10-minute mark players start to reduce their work rate.  On average the midfielders and the mobile forwards ran the furthest for total distance and high-speed running.

Research like this one gives us confidence that improving a midfielder’s running capacity in a traditional conditioning manner in conjunction with specific football drills like small, sided games will increase the likelihood of increasing the player’s ability to express repeat high-intensity efforts in a game for longer. (10) Potentially giving the team a winning advantage over the competition.

Mental

Behaviour

Mental health

Psychological reactions to injury

Team behaviour can influence the tactical, technical, and physical side of performance. The key focus of Sam J Robertson’s research: Collective team behaviour of Australian rules football during a phase of math play investigated the difference in team behaviour with regards to possession and location on the field. (13)

Mental health which unfortunately is growing in its effect on AFL players and therefore key management practices from sports doctors at AFL clubs are critical. (14) Thirdly looking into the psychology of AFL players with regards to the reaction to injury. (15)

Although the sample size is small for the team behaviour article the findings were interesting, utilizing notational analysis methods to assess the effects players were positioning themselves during different stages of play. Clear differences were recorded with regards to length, width, and surface area were all typically greater during offense when compared to defense and contested phases. Team B pattern of greater values of length, width, and surface area during all phases of play when compared to team A. (13) Creating this extra space from an offensive point of view may be to help clear space for the forwards, from a physical point of view this style of play may increase the high-intensity efforts of the midfielders through creating space and being able to get back if the ball was in the contest as reported in this study both teams would aim to close space during contested situations.

AFL like many high-performance sporting codes have many mental health issues and the key to good management is the primary care providers the sports doctors. (14) This research conducted a questionnaire of best practices from experienced AFL sports doctors (96%) with 39% having worked for more than 10 years.

The findings fell within nine domains, 1. Prevention and mental health promotion activities 2. Screening and Risk identification 3. Engaging external specialists 4. Duty of care 5. Assessment, treatment, and case coordination 6. Communication 7. Confidentiality 8. Sleep management 9. Substance use management

A key takeaway is to ensure the club has an experienced sports doctor to look out for the players with best practices in conjunction with a multidisciplinary team to ensure the whole club approach to optimise prevention, identification, and treatment to manage players mental health. (14)

How do AFL athletes respond to injury?

For all those involved with working with AFL players understanding this concept is critical to the mental health of players. The results found in this study showcase how important it is to support AFL players going through rehabilitation.  A Player’s response tends to depend on the severity of the injury if its short term it can fall under the normality of injury as ‘all part of the game’, however, long term and stress can be high due to losing connection with their teammates, contract’s expiring, and not returning in the same physical shape. (15)

AFL players reported fluctuations of negative emotions during a longer-term injury such as shock, anger, disappointment, and the sense of feeling flat. Common for players to experience fear of missing out on games, and team structure resulting in feeling anxious, depressed, and moody.

A key takeaway is how often players reported feeling unfit and ‘rusty’ with their ball skills when returning to training and games.

The practical implementation of this is the importance of including cross-training, and plenty of touches either with a skills coach or another rehab player to ensure the midfield-specific skills were incorporated while the player was in rehabilitation to improve self-efficacy. Encouraging maintaining coach connection with the player is key to preventing players from feeling isolated, perhaps using video footage of a player’s high light reel, and mentioning a positive performance post an injury would be helpful in also building players’ confidence and feeling connected to the club. Furthermore, during the early stages of rehab, it’s important for medical and staff to incorporate plenty of variation to prevent boredom and for players to be involved in team activities wherever possible. (15)

Tactical

Field location

Passages of play for offense play

A longitudinal systematic review looked at the average physical output changes in AFL players from 2005 to 2017 and found rule changes and game style to be the most significant influence on the match demands of AFL players. (1)

What does this specifically mean for AFL midfielders? How does the game style have an effect? Well, the research shows AFL midfielders are required to work the hardest during offensive plays, compared to defensive and contested phases. (10)

This finding is consistent with the research on positional demands and field location found. (12) When team a team intercepts the ball, it is more likely that the opposition will not have their defensive zone structure in place. Allows for a greater opportunity to score and hence why midfielders get rewarded when they work hard during these passages of play. Key takeaway the ability of midfielders to work hard when the ball is turned the ball is key to team success due to the increased probability of a clearer path to goals. (3)

Technical

Effective Kicking

Ball in play

Effective Handball

While work rate is important for team success, effective technical actions are most important. (6)

 

Successful offensive plays resulting in a shot on goal appeared to be dependent on both physical output and technical skills. (5) As the table 2 when a team with high short kicking effectiveness on average win more quarters by a larger amount.

Table 4 shows how important handballing skills are for midfielders ranking the highest percentage of key position players

Players are likely to have increased workload and decreased skill proficiency when their team is less successful. (3) Having a program that focuses on developing kicking effectiveness is critical for team success.

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How to Train Like an AFL Midfielder
How to Train Like an AFL Midfielder