Topend Sports Logo

AFL Player Anthropometry - body size and composition

While successful AFL players can come in all shapes and sizes, certain physical attributes, such as height, hand span, arm length, body mass & skinfolds, can all play an important part in performance. For example, being tall gives a distinct advantage for reaching the ball, body shape can affect balance, and carrying excess body fat increases fatigue.

In our poll about the component of fitness most important for success in AFL, body size and composition was rated one of the lowest, though it was above flexibility and strength. In a similar online survey, when we asked for your rating of 'Which Factors Make Successful AFL Players?', body size and composition was again rated one of the lowest, but greater than flexibility. Despite the low importance, the impact player body size, shape and composition can not be ignored.


Tall players are at an advantage on the footy field, though there are many successful AFL players that are not tall. The list of tallest AFL footballers ever is made up of mostly ruckmen, clearly demonstrating that height is an advantage for this playing position. Taller players, combined with a good leap and positional skills, will win the ruck more often. Around the field, height is an advantage in overhead marking contests, and for reaching in for the ball, though tall players will find it harder to access ground balls.

Being short can also have an advantage, the lower center of gravity of shorter players may result in better balance and agility, a clear advantage while going for the loose balls. See the list of the shortest AFL players ever, despite small stature, these players have had a successful AFL career.

Girths and Widths

The width of the hand outstretched may be related to the ability to grab opposition players and mark the ball. Longer arms may be an advantage for football players when taking a mark or tackling an opposition player.

measuring up against Nic Natmeasuring up against Nic Nat

Weight / Body Composition

No matter what the height of the player is, any excess body fat would affect the player's ability to move freely around the field, and also increase fatigue during training and game play. A simple way to look at this is using BMI, which indicates the weight relative to the player's height.

Some Relevant References

Related Pages

send us a comment Any comments, suggestions, or corrections? Please let us know.

Sport Extra

Check out the 800+ sports in the Encyclopedia of Every Sport. Well not every sport, as there is a list of unusual sports, extinct sports and newly created sports. How to get on these lists? See What is a sport? We also have sports winners lists, and about major sports events and a summary of every year.

 → How to Cite