Rob Wood

Rob's Sports, Fitness & Science Blog

Entries Tagged as 'AFL'

AFL Controversially Drops Skinfold Testing

November 10th, 2021 · Comments Off on AFL Controversially Drops Skinfold Testing · AFL, Fitness Testing, Sports Nutrition

In a controversial move, the Australian Football League (AFL) have removed skinfold testing from the annual combine test battery, over mental health and body image concerns.

The skinfold test is a body composition assessment that is used throughout the world, and has been performed at the annual Draft Combine for over 20 years. It forms an important part of the player’s overall assessment at the combine, which includes testing in areas such as medical, physical, psychological and skills.

The test determines the player’s body fat percentage by measuring the thickness of a pinch of skin at multiple sites of the body. It is very useful to know the level of excess fat a player is carrying because excess body fat would affect the AFL player’s ability to jump vertically, move freely around the ground, and the extra weight can increase fatigue, which are all important aspects of the game of AFL. The sports science staff at a football club would like to know if a player is carrying extra weight that he could potentially lose, a worthwhile and often an easily achievable task.

AFL Game
A low body fat level enhances a player’s jumping ability

The decision to remove skinfold testing at the combine has been widely criticised by both players and AFL club officials. If the players are being body-shamed based on their skinfold test results, then that is a problem. The answer? Stop the body shaming, don’t stop this important part of the player assessment.

It seems like a case of blaming the tool. It may just be the way that the test results are presented to the players. Tell the players why it is important to measure this (and it is). Educate the players on the personal benefits of having skinfolds measured, and how it can enhance their physical performance and consequently the team’s performance.

Skinfold testing should be considered the same as any other component of fitness testing, as a chance to identify which areas they can improve to become a better player. If their 2km time trial is slow, extra work on the track is required, if their vertical jump score is low, a bit of extra leg work in the gym, if they are carrying a bit too much extra body fat, the sports dietitian can guide them to make changes to improve their diet. The aim of all of this is to improve the player, not to shame them. It is an opportunity to improve, not an opportunity to put them down.

I don’t think there is any chance of the test being put back on the combine tests list. It is going to leave the clubs to use other methods to estimate body fat of their potential draft picks, such as using the height and weight measurements to calculate BMI, and we know how badly that works as a measure of body fat in muscular individuals (like football players!). If the clubs see value in the skinfold test, it will probably stay as one of their assessments within the club for the time being, they just won’t have that information at hand when they are looking for new recruits.

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Is an AFL 10th Umpire needed?

September 18th, 2011 · Comments Off on Is an AFL 10th Umpire needed? · AFL, Technology, Umpires & Referees

I have previously discussed whether soccer should have a video referee and after being at an AFL game last night I believe there is a good argument for using video or other technology to adjudicate close goal-line decisions in AFL too.

Not far from me I saw two incidents where it was a close call whether the ball actually crossed the goal line, and from my position, the umpire did not seem to get it right. I have not had the opportunity to see a reply which was surely shown to the home viewers of the match.

If the TV viewers can get to see a slow-motion reply of such situations immediately after the fact, why can’t they refer close calls to an off-field umpire who can watch the same video and then refer their decision back to the field umpires? Rugby union have had such a system for a while now, and international cricket and tennis matches are also using a referral system. It is time for the AFL to join the other major sports.

There are already nine umpires on the field in AFL matches: three field umpires, four boundary umpires and two goal umpires. There is an emergency umpire, who is the tenth. He is currently there as a possible replacement if needed, and also responsible for monitoring behind the play incidents. It would not be too much to ask this umpire to also be responsible for reviewing the video replays when they arise. I have a personal reason for these views – last night my team the Blues lost by 3 points and are out of the finals, if only a video referee system was in place the result may have been different.

Related Pages: About AFLTechnology in Sports

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No Rules International Rules

November 6th, 2006 · Comments Off on No Rules International Rules · AFL

Every year a representative side from the Australian Football League play a series of games against an Irish Gaelic Football rep team, in what is called International Rules. The two games, AFL and Gaelic Football, are somewhat alike, so they have made up some rules that are a hybrid of the two games.

Every year the series is full of controversy, and this year was not an exception. The problem is usually a result of the interpretation of the rules, and that the Aussies are used to a more physical game and find it hard to hold back during the heat of a competitive game.

After Australia won the series this year, and after the Irish took some very hard knocks, they have come out crying for an end to the series. Of course, we will see games again next year, as both games do not have any other international scope and it makes good money for the amateur Irish players.

Related Pages: AFL

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Becoming a member of the MCC

October 9th, 2006 · No Comments · AFL, Cricket, Spectators

My wife is expecting a baby in April next year, and one thought in my mind is whether to get he or she onto the waiting list for the Melbourne Cricket Club. It is an exclusive club – the waiting list is so long that it may take 20 years before you are offered a place.

To get onto the waiting list, it currently costs a non-refundable $55(at the time of writing). A lot can happen in 20 years. Once they offer you membership, if you don’t take it up you may forfeit your place. By then you may not even be interested in sport. If you do take up the offer of membership, it is going to cost you a small fortune to join and stay a member.

Commonwealth Games at the MCG

The current entrance fee is $660.00 (which you pay in instalments as you move through the various membership and age categories), and being a full member also cost $504 annually. If you are not at a stage to regularly go to matches or events at the ground, it is quite a bit to pay.

In twenty years time, MCC membership will probably be very well sought after. My child can always say no, I see the $55 fee as a good price to pay to just give them the option in the future.

Related Pages: Cricket, Aussie Rules, MCG

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Kicking the Footy

October 6th, 2006 · No Comments · AFL, Rugby League, Rugby Union

It is interesting to compare the popularity of the different football codes between the Australian states – historically SA, VIC and WA are AFL states, NSW and QLD rugby states.

AFL appears to be recently making headway into the northern states, and starting with the kids is the way to go. One thing I believe that makes Aussie Rules a popular sport with kids, and gives it an advantage, is the ability to have a social kick to kick. In comparison, throwing a rugby ball to each other does not have the same excitement.

Rob watching Australia play football (soccer) in Perth

The highly physical nature of the rugby codes also does not lead themselves to schoolyard play. With the issues of liability and the concern about injuries, we may see a gradual change to AFL. Soccer may beat them all, but that is another story.

Related Pages: AFL, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Soccer

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Beyond the Wave

October 5th, 2006 · Comments Off on Beyond the Wave · AFL

I have just finished reading a book, “Beyond the Wave” by Trisha Broadbridge. It was one of those books that when you start you just can’t put it down. It wasn’t because it was well written or anything – I was just curious to read a first hand account about a major disaster. The sporting link made it more interesting. The book is about the events leading up to and following the Tsunami disaster on Boxing Day 2004, in which Trisha’s husband Troy, and AFL player, was killed. The message I got from this story is that cannot take anything for granted. No matter how big and strong you are, the human body is still pretty fragile. We have to make the most of every day. In the words of one sporting company, ‘Just do it!’

Related Pages: AFL

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Scalping Tickets

September 30th, 2006 · Comments Off on Scalping Tickets · AFL

I felt pretty special on the walk from Melbourne city centre to the MCG for the AFL grand final. We passed at least 10 people with signs begging for tickets to the game, and I had mine and I was not going to sell it. Well, if the price was right, I could be tempted.

I wonder if any of them got a last-minute ticket, though I doubt it. If someone offered me over $1000 I would have sold them mine, but that was unlikely. AFL authorities were out to stop any scalpers, so I would not be risking it close to the ground.

If I was going to try and pick up any tickets before the game, I would try the pubs or at least be further away. Actually, if I did not have tickets, which was nearly the case, I would have forgotten all about trying to get hold of any at the last minute and organised to watch the game at a friend’s place or at a pub nearby. That way you can avoid any disappointment, relax with a few drinks, hear the commentary, yell and scream whatever you want, then come out later and celebrate into the night with the crowd if your team wins.

Related Pages: AFL, MCG

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Grand Final Sprint

September 30th, 2006 · No Comments · AFL

This year the Grand Final Sprint was won by the Carlton player Brendan Fevola (the ‘Fev’). I don’t understand why, but this year it was a handicap event, meaning the players started from different marks. In the old days (as far as I can remember) all the players would run off scratch, which then means that the winner is really the fastest AFL player around (unless the fastest player is in one of the Grand Final Teams), which I thought was the purpose of the while thing. A bit of searching found out that the contestants’ times over 20 metres were sourced from their clubs and sent to Athletics Australia, which then devised the handicap marks for each player. The result of the final sprint did not mean much at all, except that maybe Fev was foxing when the club did their sprint tests, enabling him to have a 8m head start. Let’s hope they revert back to the straight sprint for next year.

Related Pages: AFL, Carlton Blues, Grand Final Sprint

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Major Entertainment

September 30th, 2006 · Comments Off on Major Entertainment · AFL, Spectators

The end of the season is here, and my third favourite team had made it to the AFL Grand Final! The West Coast Eagles playing the Sydney Swans. Our seats were not too bad, on the top level above the pocket, and just under the scoreboard. We were early enough to catch all of the pre-game entertainment, though I would struggle to describe it as entertaining. They need to get some class acts and not just use mediocre performers that satisfy sponsors or the media. We have probably been spoiled with Olympic and Commonwealth Games opening ceremonies in recent years, where they go over the top with the displays. At half time the main entertainment was the sprint race, which for some unknown reason was handicapped this year, and the winner started well ahead of the others – it was a joke. The game was much more exciting, as it should be, it was the reason we were there. The Eagles got off to a good start, but such was the closeness in ability of these teams it was never a comfortable margin. The Swans crept up on the Eagles and the game finished with just a point between the teams. We finished the day of entertainment at the ‘after party’ at Punt Road Oval as did thousands of others. We were lucky to get in – they closed the gates not long after we passed through. We got a beer and watched Mark Seymour while waiting an hour or two for the victorious Eagles to show up – which they did for only a few minutes. We were satisfied, and ready for home.

Related Pages: AFL, MCG, Sydney Swans, West Coast Eagles

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Parading the Stars

September 29th, 2006 · Comments Off on Parading the Stars · AFL, Spectators

For the first time, I went into Melbourne city to watch the AFL grand final parade, where the grand final teams are presented to the people of Melbourne the day before the big game. We arrived in time to get a spot only one row back from the front with pretty good views of the street. We had another half hour to wait around for the parade to arrive. It all happened pretty quickly, the players passed by sitting in the back of cars, occasionally waving to the crowd. The players seem disinterested – maybe they had something else on their mind, like a game of footy? I am sure they all just itching to get out onto the MCG and play, as we were itching to see the game. It was a disappointment really. The crowd disappeared just as quickly as the players passed, leaving an empty street for us to walk along. The street blockade remained for a while, leaving us the chance to parade down the middle of the street too. That was the highlight for me!

Related Pages: AFL

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