loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

Hamstring Injuries in the AFL 2010

AFL players at injury breaking point

This article appeared in the Herald Sun written by Jason Akermanis.

I suppose I should have an opinion on the current hamstring hysteria in the AFL. I am not going to delve into statistics in this post but simply will point out some possible curve balls. The LOAD factor that Jason talks about is real. One very good friend of mine (Rudy Pilotto from Serious Consulting) once explained the concept of vicious and virtuous cycles n business and how they may relate to sport.

Well in AFL  winners are grinners. Clubs that go well usually make good decisons and don’t over react in training. Medicos and fitness staff have time to get players right or “pull” them off the track at training (so to speak!). Thus a virtuous cycle is in swing and the good team also makes good decisions usually with player management. IE St Kilda last year. ( I think Riewoldt might just be a clanger injury!). Even Geelong was able to take it’s time given games won and get players right for the finals. But when teams are under the pump everyone trains harder and all the cliches abound on the track. And often  more injury. Sometimes a win but usually in the end more losses. Also compounding this is less players on the track and changed work rest ratios and thus more  intensity. Not always, but a trend. That is why it is hard to get out of a vicious cycle. So many factors over and above media scrutiny and pressure.

Certainly the rule changes and the interchange increase has caused problems. No doubt. Well documented that the AFL has egg on it’s face for having listened to researchers that did consultancies a few years ago.  Now these stats below are off a website so could be way off but anyway worth a look. It would be interesting to see if we are up on the start of most years. Certainly we havent seen as many operations on hamstrings but again let’s remember that hamstrings simply dominate the injury statisitics always in AFL. And I think there is often a spike early in the year. WHY this opinion. I could research the stats at the end of this post and that is worth doing, but at this stage  I will simply provide an opinion.

So despite the obvious changes in the game what do I base my opinion on.


1) Often players have not adapted to high intensity repeat speed exercise early in the season. Especially now with the use of cross training and management of players. Cross training is great for fitness but does nothing for hammies at all!  In the end the only way to prepare hamstrings for stress is to stress and adapt at high speed.

2) Often teams keep higher loads going into the start of the season. Great weather, coming off pre-season, coming off lower NAB Cup game loads, means teams do not make subtle adjustments to training loads. Funny thing once RD 6 to 10 comes and weather gets crappy and teams stop reacting usually LOADS are dropped a massive amount. HA The old reactive opposite effect. What? Sometimes fitness people outsmart themselves. They forget that 99% percent of the worlds people live in maybe 10% of the habitat. What? All this crap that coaches and fitness gurus go on about is funny. Human beings are a very weak species!

3) Grounds are great and players want to zing around. Coaches are keen and want to do that little extra with “extras”.

4) Great players usually have great speed and endurance and tough minds and push harder in trainng and games.

So Riewoldt and Kerr? Interesting that Riewoldt had a groin injury going into the GF. And also I couldnt get over his warmup in the week before. HA. Reminded me of James Hird. Warmed up early, then again with team and then was pumping the sprints. The thought passed my mind he was in absolute peak condition. Did he think he was invinvible? I reckon some of the greats think like this. Kerr is simple. Great capacity to run but injury plagued and hip/core related in past years. YUK. So the question is if when he turned the burners on was he ready at that extra 1% his brain can tell his body to go at? Like Cousin’s the year before. I am not in the inner sanctum so all opinions.

Akermanis is still very fast but is old. So that is a risk.

Aker is 100% right though. Risk increasing loads inseason in the hardest team sport by far and look out. Remember the CROWS in 2006! Aaaghhh. Forgot about the 99%/10% rule!

So the next step in this whole argument is to strictly look at statistics. Are there more hamstrings as we speak? Or will it be about the same. Only time will tell this season. But facts count.

And saying there is a bigger problem because high profile players have gone down is not great logic.

One problem is teams are trying to look at GPS data and create repeat speed demons. Is this flawed? I think a little and this might be a slight problem. In the end you still have to get the pill and kick it. And I reckon that most teams have equal physiologies by round 18 due to adaptation to games rather than pre-season.

Certainly though one simply has to give David Misson’s player management a massive tick. So again Riewoldt is a clanger maybe.

I was able to lower the hamstring injury rate from 1999 to 2006 to half the AFL rate and that is raw hard data folks! . How. Simply heaps of factors. Load management, core stability, running technique, speed in preseason, skills from Day 1, hamstring and gluteal strength and function. IE Trying to tick all boxes.

So let’s take a deep breath and analyze the data at the end of the year. If 25% of all injuries are hamstrings then there is a drastic problem. If the % rate is on par with average since early 2000’s then lets think again and look at individual cases.

Remember once you have adapted to eccentric exercise with speed at 99 to 100% then a dose every 8 days will keep you immune. Aker is smart!!

Adelaide Injury List

Nathan Bock (hamstring) – 1-2 weeks
Trent Hentschel (knee) – TBC
Nathan van Berlo (hamstring/back) – Test
Rory Sloane (ankle) – 3-4 weeks
James Sellar (hamstring) – 2 weeks
Scott Stevens (concussion) – Test
Sam Shaw (shin) – 2-3 weeks
Brad Symes (knee) – indefinite
Brad Moran (knee) – indefinite
Brodie Martin (knee) – indefinite
Andy Otten (knee) – season
Updated April 19
Brisbane injury list

Simon Black (calf) – test
Bryce Retzlaff (shin) – test
Bart McCulloch (quad) – test
Sam Sheldon (back) – 1 week
Amon Buchanan (thumb) – 1-2 weeks
Jed Adcock (quad) – 2 weeks
Cheynee Stiller (hamstring) – 2 weeks
Ryan Harwood (ankle) – 2 weeks
Mitch Golby (knee) – 2 weeks
Jamie Charman (ankle) – 2-4 weeks
Xavier Clarke (knee) – indefinite
Updated April 19
Carlton Injury List

Mark Austin (groin) – test
Paul Bower (leg) – test
Brad Fisher (knee) – 7-8 weeks
Brock McLean (hip) – test
Rhys O’Keeffe (hip) – 1-2 weeks
Updated April 19
Collingwood Injury List

Josh Thomas (calf) – 1-2 weeks
Brad Dick (shoulder) – 4-5 weeks
John Anthony (foot) – test
Ben Sinclair (shins) – 1-2 weeks
Updated April 20
Essendon Injury List

Leroy Jetta (thumb) – available
Mark McVeigh (elbow) – test
Angus Monfries (quad) – test
Brent Stanton (back) – test
John Williams (ankle) – test
Mark Williams (ankle) – test
Darcy Daniher (quad) – test
Michael Quinn (quad) – 1 week
Ben Howlett (ankle) – 1-2 weeks
Updated April 19
Fremantle Injury List

Garrick Ibbotson (shoulder) – 4-6 weeks
Nick Suban (ankle) – 1 week
Antoni Grover (knee) – 2-3 weeks
Tim Ruffles (knee) – 2-3 weeks
Scott Thornton (groin) 3-4 weeks
Updated April 20
Geelong Injury List

Darren Milburn (hamstring) – available
Travis Varcoe (thumb) – 4-6 weeks
Mitchell Brown (leg) – 2-4 weeks
Steven Motlop (shoulder) – 12 weeks
Matthew Scarlett (back) – test
Brad Ottens (knee) – test
Josh Cowan (ankle) – test
Updated April 13
Hawthorn Injury List

Brad Sewell (shoulder) – test
Simon Taylor (leg) – 12-14 weeks
Wayde Skipper (hamstring) – 4 weeks
Max Bailey (knee) – indefinite
Shaun Burgoyne (jaw) – 3-6 weeks
Josh Gibson (hamstring) – 10-12 weeks
Rhan Hooper (hamstring) – 2 weeks

Updated April 20
Melbourne Injury List

Neville Jetta (groin) – 1- week
Colin Sylvia (jaw) – test
Jared Rivers (knee) – test
Cale Morton (knee) – 4 weeks
Liam Jurrah (shoulder) – 11 weeks
Daniel Bell (shoulder) – 2 weeks
John Meesen (ankle) – indefinite
Max Gawn (knee) – indefinite
Luke Tapscott (hip) – indefinite
Austin Wonaeamirri (hamstring) – 1 week
Updated April 13
North Melbourne Injury List

Drew Petrie (foot) – 4-6 weeks
Matt Campbell (ankle) – 4-6 weeks
Ben Speight (broken jaw) – 4-6 weeks
Alan Obst (quad) – available
Ed Lower (leg) – available
Aaron Black (groin) – 1 week
Brayden Norris (general soreness) – 1 week
Updated April 20
Port Adelaide Injury List

John Butcher (back) – indefinite
Daniel Motlop (hamstring) – 1-2 weeks
Marlon Motlop (fractured foot) – indefinite
Jay Schulz (knee bruising) – test
Matthew Westhoff (groin) – 2-3 weeks
Updated April 19
Richmond Injury List

Nathan Foley (ankle) – indefinite
Chris Newman (hamstring) – test
Will Thursfield (leg) – test
Updated April 19
St Kilda Injury List

Jesse Smith (ankle) – TBA
Lenny Hayes (broken nose) – available
Sam Fisher (concussion) – test
Luke Miles (leg stress fracture) – indefinite
Nick Riewoldt (hamstring) – indefinite
Updated April 13
Sydney Injury List

Ben McGlynn (quad strain) – 2-4 weeks
Craig Bird (foot) – 4-5 weeks
Brett Meredith (quad) – available
Kristin Thornton (knee) – 4-5 weeks
Jake Orreal (back soreness) – TBA
Updated April 20
West Coast Injury List

Daniel Kerr (hamstring) – 12 weeks
Tiam Houlihan (foot) – 6 weeks
Sam Butler (facial fracture) – 2-3 weeks
Luke Shuey (knee) – 2 weeks Updated April 19

Western Bulldogs Injury List Matthew Boyd (broken hand) – 1 week
Tim Callan (knee) – TBA
Ayce Cordy (shoulder) – 3 weeks
Christian Howard (hip) – 4 weeks
James Mulligan (hamstring) – 1 week
Liam Picken (ankle) – 5-6 weeks
Shane Thorne (knee) – 12 weeks
Callan Ward (groin) – 5 weeks
Easton Wood (knee) – test
Updated April 19

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tennis and Patrick White

McNamee the perfect face – shame about mask

The article above appeared in today’s Australian.Zero comment on politics from me. But certainly did want to comment on some simplistic comments in the article as quoted below.

“Everybody knew Australian tennis was in trouble. A quick survey found only nine Australians who could hit the ball over the net with consecutive shots and none who could serve overhead. Bernard Tomic was hailed the next great hope, but only because he owned three racquets. But a deeper look would have shown a broadening base of talent that was yet to mature. More courts were being upgraded and if Little Lleyton’s best was behind him, Sam Stosur was on a run which took her into the world’s top 10.”

Whilst White does say there is a reasonable base, it still perpetuates the myth that none can play. Reality yes, is we havent got many players in the top echelon. Kids go overseas to academies and to pursue improvement. That has been going on for a while. People have been trying hard for a while. But what has to be remembered is that in my opinion this may be the toughest sport around to succeed in now. I have been in a number of elite sports and now first hand see the tennis industry. Tough.

It is an individual sport where millions of people are trying to squeeze into a few 100. As against the ‘good old days” everyone plays. And clay courts have become an issue added to the decline of grasscourt.

It is an expensive sport where you cant make much money at all unless you are top 100. Chances of that are slim. So how do you support yourself till 22/23 given the average age of grand slams and top 100;s is always 25ish. Well apart from some AIS funding real tough in OZ. No real club structure that supports players and just up to parents and some funding that seems to change all the time.

So in OZ you cant support yourself. And again forget people talking about years ago. Kids cannot afford to continue to gamble into their 20’s now. Forget the 60’s/70’s and 80’s and even 90’s. Added to this is the tyranny of distance. If you live in Europe or the States you can whisk around and pick up points winning a round or two and build your ranking. When your ranking gets to 200 to 500 you can then get into small tournaments and win a game or two. This then ups your ranking and off you go. So one needs to play and rack up points. OR be a superstar and go wham bam kazaam. Will happen once a generation. Hewitt? At least now we have a PRO circuit and Molik was able to rack up points and get going. Thats the system. You just dont play once. There are 10,000/25.000/50,000 etc and soon and they all require points to get in and the better the tournament the more points you make! Gotta get over there to make points!

As stated in the article there is a groundswell of players that constitute a solid base. But lets have a look at Stosur. She was born in 1984. So at approximately 16 she was  600 and only made the top 100 at 20ish. So even though she is a superb talent given she is top 10, it took a while. From what I have seen until 2003 this would have been a costly affair.Why stuff your career to play tennis? Play Netball and have some fun locally and get on ONE HD and work and study. Or play AFL and get delisted and play in the local leagues and make more dollars than a top 200 player can in a year! Amazing eh! Play State League soccer in melbourne and make more money!


2009 13 7
2008 52
2007 47
2006 29
2005 46
2004 65
2003 153
2002 265
2001 271
2000 682 –

Not everyone agrees with some of the things that occurred around Tomic. But of course he did win the US Open juniors and lots of people are busting their butt to do this. It means a lot as long as he is developed properly. If he comes good ASAP great but he might take time. But he obviously has talent. Give him time. If it happens early take it!

If an Australian player is ranked 200 can he hit a ball over the net? I would say this guy is a far better sportsman than an AFL player who gets into Mike Sheahan’s AFL TOP 50. A TOP 50 player almost gets legendary status and clubs that do well become sporting centres. Odd! I trained AFL guys for 20 years ( and trained Track and Field & everything else) and there are some amazing guys playing. But there are some real schmucks who prosper within the system and get paid well and thats ok. People love AFL. But if one goes to the OZ Open and watches Qualifying and sees the distraught look on very good players from all over the world that lose narrowly in RD 1 of Quals. They have to pay coaches and bills. It is tough. They are great players. Not Federers but remember a player ranked 200 in the AFL is deemed a valuable commodity. So work that one out. Ranked 200. Knocked out of quals in a big tournament and losing money. Tough gig!

I think we have had a lot of real talent go through to keeper in tennis. Burnout, overtraining, lack of funds or just a bad year or two. Overtraining is a huge one. Too many kids train too much too early. Worldwide problem in the tennis actually in my opinion. Some survive! There is a better system.

A lot of thought has to go into how to 1) Unearth the GRAND SLAM winner in OZ 2) Get the 200 to 600 guys able to to stay in the sport so they form a base in the top 150. These are 2 different aims.

BUT they can play and lots of kids are great. Past eras mean nothing. The skills and athleticism required in tennis now totally eclipse the past. And soon Sports Science and elite coaches will invade the sport and we will see another jump.

Tough gig. Seems to me we have got a real talent base now coming through and lots of players pusihing into 200’s etc. Lets get these very good players up and make them exceptional players. But they can’t do it on a diet of PAL dog food!

April 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment