Why is footy pre season so important?

By Cara Peake, Physiotherapist

21st March 2018

AFL pre-season footy training

Pre season often seems like a lot of running and hard work before the fun of the season begins. So why is it so important?

What is pre season?

Pre season is the key preparation phase before the games begin as it conditions the bones, ligaments and muscles for the demands of the upcoming season. Our bodies are fantastic creatures of adaption which means if you have spent the holidays on the couch or only jogging your body has not been conditioned to the quick sprints, sudden turns and hard hitting tackles. The first 4 weeks of the season has the most number of injuries compared with the rest of the season so if players can start to gradually prepare there body for the load they significantly reduce their risk of injury.

Increasing your training load by >50% per week almost guarantees you an injury (Tim J Gabbett, in BJSM, 2016). Pre season allows you to build the strength you skills you need steadily.

So how much training should I do in pre season?

Pre season should start at least 6 weeks before games to allow a gradually increase in training mileage. The number of sessions is recommended to become more frequent and extensive with age. For example AFL Victoria, recommends the under 11’s to complete 1-6 sessions of 45-60mins with a focus on fun, skills and mini games. The under 18’s are recommended to complete 10-12 sessions of 75-90mins with a focus on skill, game senses, team plat, tactical and physical preparation.

Tips from the Spring Team

Flexibility. Good hamstring length is key for kicking and preventing injury with

Strength. Make sure you incorporate some strength work into your training sessions to reduce your risk of muscle strain and overload injuries. E.g. squats, lunges, push ups, hops, tuck jumps, burpees.

Lean how to fall. Being able to roll and land well from a clash is critical to reducing your risk of unnecessary injury. This takes practice and should be practiced at low speeds with the pads at training.

Stamina. Building your endurance to make sure you can run out the whole game.

Check out Footy First! An exercise training program from AFL Victoria, which has been specifically developed to reduce the risk of injuries. The resource provides warm up and exercise progressions to guide players and coaches making sure their team make it to the end of season with minimal injuries!

Good luck to all the players and coaches!


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