Fitness is a very important component of success in modern AFL football, players require a very good level of aerobic endurance fitness, strength and power, running speed and agility.
Physical Demands of AFL
Aerobic fitness is a very important component of fitness for AFL, with many players (depending on the playing position) running over 10 km throughout the duration of a game (100+ minutes). On the other hand, running speed is crucial for getting first to the ball and agility and reaction time are important for evading opposition players. Speed and acceleration is important for breaking away from the opposition player, and a good top running speed is advantageous for longer sprints such as when making a lead.
Body strength and size is important in winning the ball in this high contact sport. Leg strength and jumping ability is important for any leaping for marks, and particularly important for the rucks when contesting a bounce down. The fitness demands of players will also be affected by changes to the modern game and coaching style, such as speed of the game and the use of the interchange bench.
The physical demands will vary for players in different playing positions around the ground, and the training for these players should reflect that. On-ballers need to cover a greater distance throughout the game and need exceptional aerobic capacity, while for those playing close to the goal line (forwards and backs), body size, strength, power and speed may be more important.
Regular training is needed for all areas of fitness to at least maintain current fitness levels. For an effective training program you need a good plan. The training should be aimed at achieving specific goals and be individualized to maximize the physical capabilities of particular players. In order to improve, the physical load needs to be increased over time as the players get fitter. By using cross training and by incorporating fitness into the training drills it will keep training interesting and maintain the motivation of the players. There is more information about training for sports.
The professional AFL season starts from April through to September, however preseason starts around December the previous year, with a preseason competition from late February to the start of the season proper. The season traverses the winter months. During the season footballers will train most days and occasionally two sessions per day. This includes field training of skill and conditioning as well as gym and strength training. Training session will be at least two hours duration.
Regular fitness assessments are required to monitor training improvements and to determine which areas are best to concentrate on. We have a discussion of the fitness components of AFL. There are also some good football specific fitness tests and others that can be used to test the overall fitness of AFL players. There is much more about fitness testing for AFL.
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- Fitness Components for AFL
- Attributes of a Great AFL Player
- AFL Player Anthropometry
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- About the AFL draft camp, and results from previous years.
- Poll: Fitness for AFL
- Fitness Training for Sports