Protecting Young Athletes in AFL – A Concussion Prevention Guide for ParentsCategoriesBlog

Navigating AFL Concussion Injuries and the 12-Day Recovery Protocol

The AFL’s 12-Day Concussion Protocol

The AFL’s approach to concussion management is structured and meticulous, ensuring that players receive the care and time needed to fully recover before returning to the field. The protocol is a testament to the league’s commitment to player safety, encompassing a comprehensive 12-day process that begins the moment an injury occurs.

The Australian Football League (AFL) takes player health and safety seriously, especially when it comes to concussion injuries. Concussions are a significant concern in contact sports, and the AFL’s 12-day concussion protocol is a testament to the league’s commitment to player welfare. This article delves into the specifics of the protocol, the research backing its effectiveness, and how emerging technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Machine Learning (ML) are shaping the future of concussion management in sports.

 

Concussion management is a critical aspect of player health and safety in the Australian Football League (AFL). As a sport known for its high-impact collisions and fast-paced action, the incidence of concussion is a significant concern. This blog post explores the intricacies of concussion in AFL, highlighting the league’s 12-day concussion protocol, the role of technology in managing these injuries, and the future directions for concussion management in the sport.

In-Depth Analysis of the 12-Day Protocol

The protocol is designed to monitor symptoms and recovery through a phased approach that carefully balances rest and gradual re-introduction to physical activity. This ensures that players are not rushed back into play, reducing the risk of long-term health issues associated with concussions.

Innovations in Concussion Management

Emerging research and technologies, such as Virtual-Reality Vestibular Ocular Motor Screening and machine learning models, are at the forefront of enhancing concussion management. These innovations offer new ways to assess and predict concussion outcomes, potentially revolutionizing how concussions are handled in sports.

The Role of Technology in Concussion Protocols

The integration of technology into concussion protocols represents a significant leap forward in personalized and precise concussion management. The AFL’s adoption of these tools reflects a broader trend in sports towards leveraging technology to improve player health and safety outcomes.

Player Experiences with the 12-Day Protocol

Personal accounts from players who have undergone the concussion protocol shed light on its effectiveness and areas for improvement. These stories highlight the critical importance of adhering to the protocol and the role of medical professionals in guiding players through their recovery.

Comparative Analysis with Other Sports

Examining how concussion protocols in other sports stack up against the AFL’s can provide valuable insights into best practices and potential areas for enhancement. Learning from the experiences of other leagues is crucial for the ongoing evolution of concussion management strategies.

The Future of Concussion Management in AFL

The landscape of concussion management in AFL is poised for continued evolution, driven by advances in research and technology. The league’s commitment to incorporating the latest findings and innovations into its concussion protocols is vital for safeguarding player health and well-being.

The AFL’s structured approach to concussion management, underscored by the 12-day concussion protocol, reflects a comprehensive strategy to mitigate the risks associated with concussions. Through ongoing research, technological advancements, and a dedication to best practices, the AFL is leading the way in concussion management, ensuring the safety and longevity of its players’ careers.

Interested in seeing the above information being presented by our founder Jack Mclean? Sign up to our academy for free via this link:

Coaches Monthly

Research:

    1. Virtual-Reality based Vestibular Ocular Motor Screening for Concussion Detection using Machine Learning (2022-10-13)
    • This paper explores the use of virtual reality (VR) to standardize Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) for concussion detection, showing that machine learning models can achieve high accuracy in identifying concussion symptoms based on VR-generated data. Link to paper
    1. Predicting Post-Concussion Syndrome Outcomes with Machine Learning (2021-08-04)
    • This study uses machine learning models to predict outcomes for patients with persistent post-concussion syndrome (PCS), finding predictive factors such as PTSD, perceived injustice, and symptom severity. It demonstrates that machine learning can accurately predict PCS outcomes. Link to paper
    Sport-related concussion (SRC) depends on sensory information from visual, vestibular, and somatosensory systems. At the same time, the current clinical administration of Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening (VOMS) is subjective and deviates among administrators. Therefore, for the assessment and management of concussion detection, standardization is required to lower the risk of injury and increase the validation among clinicians. With the advancement of technology, virtual reality (VR) can be utilized to advance the standardization of the VOMS, increasing the accuracy of testing administration and decreasing overall false positive rates. 
    In this paper, machine learning models are used to predict outcomes for patients with persistent post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Patients had sustained a concussion at an average of two to three months before the study. By utilizing assessed data, the machine learning models aimed to predict whether or not a patient would continue to have PCS after four to five months. The random forest classifier achieved the highest performance with an 85% accuracy and an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.94. Factors found to be predictive of PCS outcome were Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), perceived injustice, self-rated prognosis, and symptom severity post-injury. The results of this study demonstrate that machine learning models can predict PCS outcomes with high accuracy. With further research, machine learning models may be implemented in healthcare settings to help patients with persistent PCS.
Learning my AFL Reconditioning Philosophy (1)CategoriesBlog

Unlocking the Power of Reconditioning in AFL: A Comprehensive Guide to Athlete Return to Performance

Introduction

In the high-impact world of Australian Football League (AFL), the significance of reconditioning cannot be overstated. Reconditioning in AFL encompasses a broad spectrum of strategies aimed at ensuring athletes recover efficiently, maintain peak physical condition, and return from injuries stronger and more resilient. This comprehensive guide aims to unlock the power of reconditioning, offering insights into the athlete-centered approach that integrates the latest in sports science. As we gear up for an upcoming live Zoom presentation on AFL reconditioning, we invite you to explore the pivotal role of reconditioning in enhancing athlete recovery and performance.

The Rehab Journey: An Athlete-Centered Approach

Reconditioning in AFL is not a one-size-fits-all process. It’s a personalized journey that begins with an in-depth individual assessment, tailoring the recovery plan to meet each athlete’s unique needs. The key pillars of this journey include:

  • Individual Assessment and Customization: Understanding the specific needs and challenges of each athlete to develop a bespoke recovery plan.
  • Mental Health and Resilience: Recognizing the mental and emotional aspects of recovery, fostering resilience, and supporting athletes through their rehab journey.
  • Nutrition and Recovery: Highlighting the critical role of nutrition in accelerating recovery and optimizing performance.

Communication among athletes, coaches, and medical teams is paramount, ensuring that everyone is aligned in the recovery and reconditioning goals.

Reconditioning Philosophy: Keeping the Big Picture in Mind

The philosophy behind AFL reconditioning is holistic, focusing not just on immediate recovery but on the athlete’s long-term health and career longevity. This involves:

  • Periodization: Implementing a phased approach that includes off-season preparation, in-season maintenance, and post-season recovery.
  • Long-Term Development: Keeping the athlete’s long-term development and career progression in view, beyond the immediate competition season.

Applying the Science: Objectivity and Integration

Sport science plays a critical role in AFL reconditioning, providing objective data to guide decision-making. Key components include:

  • Objective Measurement and Monitoring: Utilizing technologies such as GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring to gather real-time data on athlete performance and recovery.
  • Case Studies and Best Practices: Learning from successful reconditioning strategies through case studies.
  • Techniques for Flexibility and Injury Reduction: Implementing stretching and support strategies to enhance flexibility and reduce the risk of injuries.

Integrating Reconditioning Principles

The ultimate goal is to seamlessly integrate reconditioning principles into daily training and competition schedules, tailoring plans to the individual needs and goals of each athlete. This requires continuous evaluation and adjustment, ensuring that the reconditioning strategies evolve in line with the athlete’s progress and the demands of the sport.

A comprehensive approach to reconditioning in AFL is vital for optimizing athlete recovery, performance, and longevity. As we conclude, we underscore the importance of embracing an athlete-centered approach, informed by sport science, to achieve these goals. We invite you to join our live Zoom presentation for deeper insights and interactive discussions on applying these principles to your practice or team.

Interested in seeing the above information being presented by our founder Jack Mclean? sign up to our academy for free via this link:

Coaches Monthly

Research:

Hughes L, Rosenblatt B, Haddad F, Gissane C, McCarthy D, Clarke T, Ferris G, Dawes J, Paton B, Patterson SD. Comparing the Effectiveness of Blood Flow Restriction and Traditional Heavy Load Resistance Training in the Post-Surgery Rehabilitation of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Patients: A UK National Health Service Randomised Controlled Trial. Sports Med. 2019 Nov;49(11):1787-1805. doi: 10.1007/s40279-019-01137-2. PMID: 31301034.

  • Sandford GN, Laursen PB, Buchheit M. Anaerobic Speed/Power Reserve and Sport Performance: Scientific Basis, Current Applications and Future Directions. Sports Med. 2021 Oct;51(10):2017-2028. doi: 10.1007/s40279-021-01523-9. Epub 2021 Aug 16. PMID: 34398445.
  • Flatt AA, Allen JR, Keith CM, Martinez MW, Esco MR. Season-Long Heart-Rate Variability Tracking Reveals Autonomic Imbalance in American College Football Players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2021 Dec 1;16(12):1834-1843. doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2020-0801. Epub 2021 May 26. PMID: 34039770.
  • Malone et a. 2016 Malone, S, Roe, M, Doran, DA, Gabbett, TJ and Collins, K (2016) High chronic training loads and exposure to bouts of maximal velocity running reduce injury risk in elite Gaelic football. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
  • Taberner M, Allen T, Cohen DD. Progressing rehabilitation after injury: consider the ‘control-chaos continuum’. Br J Sports Med. 2019 Sep;53(18):1132-1136. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-100157. Epub 2019 Feb 8. PMID: 30737202; PMCID: PMC6818668.
5 Essential Agility drills to increase your lateral speedCategoriesBlog

Elevate Your Game: Power Tips for Aspiring AFL Footballers to Dodge Opponents

Aspiring AFL footballers, listen up! If you’re aiming to weave through your opponents with the grace of a gazelle, you’re in the right place. We’re about to dive into some game-changing advice that will not only help you dodge your opponents but also leave them in awe of your agility. With insights derived from the latest research, this post will serve as your roadmap to becoming a more elusive and effective player on the field. So, are you ready to take your AFL game up a notch? Let’s get the ball rolling!

Harnessing the Power of Small-Sided Games

First up, let’s talk about small-sided games. These aren’t just fun; they’re a goldmine for improving your agility. According to Young & Rogers (2014), small-sided games significantly boost your ability to make quicker decisions on the field. It’s not about how fast you move, but how quickly you decide to make that move. Imagine being able to out-think your opponent and be one step ahead, literally. That’s the edge small-sided games can give you, making them a crucial part of your training arsenal.

Rethinking Change-of-Direction Training

Change-of-direction training might seem like a no-brainer for agility, right? However, the same research by Young & Rogers (2014) suggests that its benefits might not be as pronounced as we thought, especially for developing the kind of reactive agility that makes a difference in real-game scenarios. This doesn’t mean you should ditch these drills entirely, but rather, integrate them with other training forms for a well-rounded agility workout.

AFL Draft Combine
AFL Draft Combine

The Neuromuscular Training Advantage

Zouhal et al. (2019) bring neuromuscular training into the spotlight, highlighting its significant impact on agility performance in elite soccer players. Given the similarities in agility demands between soccer and AFL, incorporating neuromuscular training into your routine could be a game-changer. This type of training focuses on improving your muscle response times and coordination, essential for executing quick turns and evasive maneuvers.

Sharpening Your Perceptual Skills

Perceptual skill, or the ability to quickly process and react to your surroundings, is another critical component of agility. Young & Willey (2010) emphasize the importance of integrating perceptual training into your agility drills. It’s not just about how fast you are but how fast you can perceive a gap or an opponent’s move and react accordingly. This skill can often be the difference between a successful evasion and a missed opportunity.

Speed, Agility, and Quickness (SAQ) Training

Lastly, Milanović et al. (2013) shed light on the effectiveness of SAQ training in enhancing agility. This approach, which combines speed, agility, and quickness exercises, has been shown to improve performance significantly, even when the ball is in play. For AFL players, this means being more adaptable and agile, with or without the ball, enhancing your ability to evade opponents and create opportunities.

Incorporating These Insights into Your Training

How do you put all this into practice? Start by integrating small-sided games into your training sessions to enhance your decision-making speed. Complement these with neuromuscular training exercises to improve your physical response times and coordination. Don’t overlook the importance of perceptual training; consider drills that mimic real-game scenarios to sharpen your reactive agility. Lastly, incorporate SAQ training to round out your agility development, ensuring you’re quick, nimble, and ready to outmaneuver your opponents.

Improving your ability to evade opponents in AFL requires a multifaceted approach, as research vividly illustrates. By focusing on small-sided games, neuromuscular, and SAQ training, while also honing your perceptual skills, you’re setting yourself up for success on the field. Remember, agility is not just physical; it’s a mental game, too. So, lace up, stay sharp, and get ready to leave your opponents wondering where you went.

Eager to elevate your AFL game further? Dive into more insights and tips on our blog and join a community of footballers who, just like you, are on their way to greatness. Let’s turn these insights into action and transform your agility on the field!

Try our program for FREE via this link alternatively, book a 15-minute call with Jack to discover the best program for you!

Check out our favourite change of direction strength drills with the below videos:

Young, W., & Rogers, N. F. R. (2014). Effects of small-sided game and change-of-direction training on reactive agility and change-of-direction speed. *Journal of Sports Sciences, 32*, 307-314. [https://consensus.app/papers/effects-smallsided-game-changeofdirection-training-young/07ed8e840b3a53c8b9318df2fc659bff/(https://consensus.app/papers/effects-smallsided-game-changeofdirection-training-young/07ed8e840b3a53c8b9318df2fc659bff/

Zouhal, H., Abderrahman, A. B., Dupont, G., Truptin, P., Le Bris, R., Le Postec, E., Sghaeir, Z., Brughelli, M., Granacher, U., & Bideau, B. (2019). Effects of Neuromuscular Training on Agility Performance in Elite Soccer Players. *Frontiers in Physiology, 10*. [https://consensus.app/papers/effects-training-agility-performance-elite-soccer-zouhal/95ea735b2fea57b78cab183208273266/ (https://consensus.app/papers/effects-training-agility-performance-elite-soccer-zouhal/95ea735b2fea57b78cab183208273266/

Young, W., & Willey, B. (2010). Analysis of a reactive agility field test. *Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 13 3*, 376-378. [https://consensus.app/papers/analysis-agility-field-test-young/01fec2786ef755b790d6db6db9637e75/ (https://consensus.app/papers/analysis-agility-field-test-young/01fec2786ef755b790d6db6db9637e75/

Milanović, Z., Sporiš, G., Trajković, N., James, N., & Šamija, K. (2013). Effects of a 12 Week SAQ Training Programme on Agility with and without the Ball among Young Soccer Players. *Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 12 1*, 97-103. [https://consensus.app/papers/effects-week-training-programme-agility-without-ball-milanović/967e40951a76536ea35fb260223e6752/(https://consensus.app/papers/effects-week-training-programme-agility-without-ball-milanović/967e40951a76536ea35fb260223e6752/

My favourite ways to improve footballers speed & accelerationCategoriesBlog

Boost Your AFL Game: Master the Art of Acceleration in Just Three Steps

Hey there, AFL enthusiasts! Ready to leave your opponents in the dust? It’s all about nailing those first three steps of acceleration. This blog post is your ultimate playbook, packed with the nitty-gritty on accelerating like a pro in AFL. We’re talking top-notch drills, insider strategies, and a deep dive into the science behind swift moves. Let’s get you up to speed and turn heads on the field!

Understanding Acceleration in AFL:

In the heart-pounding world of AFL, speed is your best friend. And not just any speed – we’re zeroing in on acceleration. It’s about blasting off the starting line, seizing control of the ball, and sidestepping the competition when it matters most. Mastering acceleration means you’re not just playing the game; you’re dominating it.

The Science Behind Acceleration:

Ever wonder what makes you zip across the field like a bolt of lightning? It’s all in the mechanics and muscle. We’re talking about explosive leg power, perfecting your body’s angles, and training those fast-twitch muscle fibers to react in a flash. Get this formula right, and you’re on your way to becoming an acceleration maestro.

Key Drills and Exercises:

It’s showtime! Transform theory into action with drills designed for AFL champs. Picture yourself nailing wall drills, powering through sled sprints, and leaping into plyometrics. And that’s just for starters. We’ve got a whole lineup of game-changing routines to skyrocket your acceleration.

Speed vs. Acceleration:

Let’s set the record straight – speed and acceleration are two sides of the same coin, but they play different games. Speed’s about the long haul, but acceleration? What’s your secret weapon for those make-or-break moments in AFL? Fine-tune your acceleration, and watch the game bend to your rhythm.

Tailored Training for Every Position:

No two AFL players are the same, and neither is their approach to acceleration. Whether you’re a midfielder needing quick bursts, a forward eyeing the goal, or a defender on the prowl, we’ve got bespoke tips to amp up your acceleration game.

Staying on Track:

Consistency is key, and tracking your progress is your roadmap to success. We’re dishing out pro tips on training smart, recovering right, and using tech to keep your acceleration gains on a steady climb.

To learn these strategies in greater detail watch the below YouTube Video where Jack Mclean discusses this topic on his podcast:

Strength training can enhance acceleration and performance in various sports. Research shows:

1. Resisted sprint (RS) training improves acceleration and leg power, similar to nonresistant sprint (NRS) training, without adversely affecting acceleration kinematics or gait [(Spinks et al., 2007)](https://consensus.app/papers/effects-resisted-sprint-training-acceleration-spinks/f38d54c9f4ef5b9ebab8039e17cc9ee0/

2. Heavy strength training leads to significant improvements in strength and power-related measurements, though its combination with plyometric training does not significantly enhance performance in professional soccer players compared to strength training alone [(Rønnestad et al., 2008)](https://consensus.app/papers/shortterm-effects-strength-plyometric-training-sprint-rønnestad/329b4634b11b5fa7a32919ff24522806/

3. Strength training with heavy versus light load on weighted sled towing significantly improves sprint acceleration ability without negative effects on sprint performance [(Kawamori et al., 2014)](https://consensus.app/papers/effects-weighted-towing-with-heavy-versus-light-load-kawamori/b2f73c3bc43855709a26fcc7fd262e59/

 

Wrapping Up:

You’ve got the power tips, the drills, and the insider strategies. Now, it’s your move. Take these insights, hit the field, and start your journey to AFL greatness. Remember, every champion’s journey starts with mastering those first three steps of acceleration. Ready, set, go!

Ready to make those acceleration gains?

Check out our favourite acceleration drills with the below videos:

Maximising Your Impact Excelling in a Strength and Conditioning InternshipCategoriesBlog

Navigating the Career Ladder in AFL High Performance

In the competitive realm of elite sports, the journey of a strength and conditioning professional is akin to climbing a meticulously crafted ladder. Career progression is not just about accumulating experience but strategically navigating through various levels. This blog explores the essential 6-level criteria designed to guide aspiring individuals in the dynamic field of strength and conditioning.

**Level 1: Internship at a Pro Club:**

Embarking on the ladder begins with the foundational step of an internship at a professional club. This immersive experience allows individuals to breathe in the elite sports environment, understanding the nuances that set it apart. As an intern, one gains invaluable insights that serve as a compass for the journey ahead. The transition to managing a senior local-level program further hones leadership and communication skills, establishing a solid base for the climb.

**Level 2: Strength & Power Coach at NAB League, AFLW, or VFL Men’s:**

Ascending to the second level involves taking on the role of a Strength & Power Coach in prestigious leagues such as NAB, AFLW, or VFL Men’s. This stage is characterized by hands-on practical experience, where responsibilities extend beyond the weight room. Crafting tailored programs for elite athletes becomes second nature, laying the groundwork for career growth. It’s here that the true impact of a strength and power coach on athlete performance comes to the forefront.

**Level 3: High-Performance Manager in VFL Men’s or AFLW, NAB League:**

Leveling up to a High-Performance Manager marks a pivotal transition. The role extends beyond the day-to-day coaching tasks, encompassing strategic planning and leadership. Managers at this level navigate the complexities of high-stakes competitions, requiring a keen understanding of the team’s dynamics and individual athlete needs. Leadership skills and a visionary approach become paramount for success.

**Level 4: Full-Time Assistant S&C or PhD Research at a Pro Club:**

At the fourth level, professionals may opt for specialized roles such as Full-Time Assistant Strength & Conditioning or delve into PhD research within a professional club. This stage underscores the significance of balancing practical experience with academic pursuits. Specialization becomes a key focus, contributing not only to the team’s success but also advancing the knowledge base of the field.

**Level 5: Full-Time Strength & Power Coach or Reconditioning Coach or Sport Scientist:**

Specialization takes center stage at Level 5, where professionals may choose to become a Full-Time Strength & Power Coach, Reconditioning Coach, or Sport Scientist. Tailoring training programs to specific aspects of athletic performance becomes a defining skill. This level explores the evolving landscape of sports science, emphasizing the integration of cutting-edge methodologies for enhanced athlete outcomes.

**Level 6: Full-Time High-Performance Manager:**

Reaching the summit of the career ladder in elite sports strength and conditioning is epitomized by becoming a Full-Time High-Performance Manager. At this zenith, professionals oversee the entire high-performance program, making critical decisions and setting the strategic direction for the team. Leadership, decision-making prowess, and an in-depth understanding of the intricate relationship between science and sports define success at this level.

To learn these strategies in greater detail watch the below YouTube Video where Jack Mclean discusses this topic on his podcast:

In summary, each level on the career ladder is a stepping stone, building on the foundation laid before. Aspiring strength and conditioning professionals are encouraged to view their journey as a structured progression, each stage offering unique challenges and learning opportunities. By following this 6-level criterion, individuals can not only navigate but excel in the dynamic landscape of elite sports strength and conditioning. The climb may be demanding, but the view from the top is worth the effort. Keep pushing boundaries, honing skills, and embracing the challenges that come with each level. Success in elite sports strength and conditioning is not just a destination but a continuous journey of growth and excellence.