In this blog post, we will explore six essential strategies that can help AFL players achieve “AFL Marathon Mastery,” not only propelling them to prolong their playing careers but also enabling them to excel on the field. From strength training to recovery and lifestyle choices, these two times “AFL Marathon Mastery” will serve as the cornerstone of your longevity and success in the Australian Rules Football (AFL) marathon. Playing AFL requires exceptional physical and mental stamina due to the sport’s high-impact nature and long game duration, making it imperative for players to prioritize their fitness and well-being around “AFL Marathon Mastery.”
Highlights of the episode:
Consider training age
Consider your body mass
Know your medical limitations
Know when to do plyometric training
Make sure your intent is to move faster
Emphasize Key Compound Movements in the Gym
One crucial aspect of maintaining a successful AFL career is building and preserving strength. Compound movements, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and bench pulls, play a vital role in developing overall strength and stability. By consistently incorporating these exercises into your gym routine, you can fortify your muscles, protect your joints, and enhance your ability to resist tackles and maintain balance during high-intensity gameplay.
Incorporate Explosive Movements
Speed and agility are paramount in AFL, and incorporating explosive movements into your training regimen is essential. Sprinting should be a regular part of your training sessions, not just for maximum velocity exposure but also for working on accelerations, which occur more frequently in games. Focus on your first three steps, using power bands and emphasizing proper technique to enhance your acceleration and change of direction abilities. Additionally, include power training sessions in your routine to improve explosiveness and prime your body for peak performance on game days.
Maintain an Aerobic Conditioning Stimulus
AFL is a physically demanding sport that requires both endurance and the ability to recover quickly. In season, it’s crucial to reduce ground contact forces to protect your joints. This can be achieved through off-feet conditioning, such as cycling, swimming, or total body circuits. By incorporating aerobic conditioning exercises, you can build a strong foundation and improve your overall fitness. Pre-season is the ideal time to focus on developing your aerobic base, enabling you to handle high-intensity efforts and recover efficiently throughout the season.
Prioritize Body Health and Recovery
Taking care of your body is paramount to sustaining a successful AFL career. Recovery plays a significant role in preventing injuries and optimizing performance. A simple approach to recovery is to work in minutes equal to the time spent working out. For example, if you spend 45 minutes in the gym and have a 60-minute on-field session, aim for two hours of recovery activities. These activities may include deep tissue massages, light recovery sessions in the pool, stretching, and foam rolling. By prioritizing recovery, you can enhance your resilience, build robustness, and reduce the risk of injuries.
Focus on an Elite Lifestyle: Sleep, Stress, and Nutrition
To perform at your best on and off the field, it is crucial to prioritize three essential aspects of your lifestyle: sleep, stress management, and nutrition. Adequate sleep is vital for recovery and cognitive function, so aim for a consistent and restful sleep routine. Additionally, manage stress effectively by practicing mindfulness, seeking support when needed, and developing coping mechanisms. Lastly, pay close attention to your nutrition. Fueling your body with the right nutrients will provide you with energy, aid in recovery, and optimize your performance. Make healthy food choices and ensure you’re properly hydrated to excel in the demanding AFL environment.
Consult Experts and Injury Prevention
Injuries can be significant setbacks in an AFL career, so it’s crucial to consult with experts to prevent and manage them effectively. Whether you’ve experienced a significant injury, such as an ACL tear, or a minor strain, seek guidance from specialists who can help you restore and improve your range of motion. Working with AFL strategy coaches and injury-specific experts will equip you with the knowledge and techniques to reduce the risk of further injuries. By prioritizing injury prevention, you can continue to perform at your best and avoid potential setbacks.
Prolonging an AFL career requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses strength training, explosive movements, aerobic conditioning, recovery, lifestyle choices, and injury prevention. By implementing these six essential strategies into your training and daily life, you can enhance your performance, increase longevity, and enjoy a successful AFL career. Remember, it’s not just about the game itself but also about the commitment you make to your physical and mental well-being. Master the AFL marathon, and the rewards will follow.
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.