Australian football is a contact sport played by two teams of 18 players who contest play over four 20-minute quarters; the object of the game is to score the most points through goal kicking. Eighteen professional senior sides currently compete against each other in the Australian Football League (AFL) and, similar to other football codes, game demands at the elite level in the AFL have changed considerably in recent years. Understanding the demands placed on Australian football players can assist in physical preparation, as well as relating this data to injury and performance.

Previously, Australian Football players from different positions (full forward/full back, centre half forward/centre half back, small forward/small back, mid fielders and ruckmen) were recognised as each carrying differing movement demands based on their positions (Dawson, Hopkinson, Appleby, Stewart, Roberts, 2004). The main findings were: full forward/full back were most different from the other positions, as they were seen to stand more and jog and fast-run less; ruckmen and midfielders were involved in more game activities than the other positions; for all positions, there were more than 150 high intensity movements (fast-run plus sprint) in the game, but these accounted for only 4–6% of total movement time; virtually all of the high intensity movements lasted for <6 secs; more than half of all sprints involved at least one change of direction, mostly within the 0–90· arc (left or right) and all ground ball contests took <6 secs, with midfielders having 2–3 times as many as the other positions.

This research has implications for all Australian football players, as it is clear that players need to train based on their positional requirements. This will help make them accustomed to the movement demands of that position, which will lead to decreased injury risk and increased performance in that role (Hiscock, Dawson, Heasman, Peeling, 2012).

References

Dawson, B., Hopkinson, R., Appleby, B., Stewart, G., Roberts, C. (2004). Player movement patterns and game activities in the Australian Football League. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 7: 278-291.

Hiscock, D., Dawson, B., Heasman, J., Peeling, P. (2012). Game movements and player performance in the Australian Football League. International Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport, 12: 531-545