loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

TAC system is flawed

Paul Roos has often spoken about the gap that exists between the U/18 AFL/TAC system and the actual AFL competition. It is often debated also that the old U/19 system was superior to the current U/18 system.

Paul Roos on Gap between U/18 & AFL

The other issue is education. The AFL has changed it’s age policy to make sure players complete their VCE. But there still is concern about players putting more emphasis on making the cut at the draft rather than working on their education. And in reality few make it through, but many put their heart and soul into the quest to get drafted. Anecdotally I have been told there is a literacy problem with young players.

Quote off Wikipedia: “From the 2009 draft, players must be at least 18 years of age on 31 December in the year in which they are drafted, so that players who turn 18 during their first months of Year 12 will be able to finish studying without the pressure of AFL. This was increased over the past few years due to concerns about school age players potentially having to leave home to play football interstate.”

It is obvious the AFL simply copied the US system of drafting. But the massive difference is that in the NFL one has to have technically done years of college so average age is always 20 + and even in the NBL the average is well above that of the AFL with the player needing to be 19+ from what I can gather. So they are proven talents in college able to win games in pressure games. They are privy to fully professional fitness programs and simply are men. So less of a gamble for clubs as against 18yo babies who six months before the draft are walking off trams in long school socks.

That’s it. worldwide systems simply revolve around buying the best talent. So the best are usually 25 average.

In 2002 I presented a powerpoint that said AFL was not an elite competition.


What I meant was that it was biased young and clubs were forced to continually stock up talent for the future even though that could take 5 to 8 years to provide success. And in the end the AFL is not a development program. It is a cut throat business where winning or giving supporters and stakeholders the hope of success being the NO 1 aim.

We are now seeing the evolution of the mature age rookie and an issue occurring where young TAC players are being overlooked for more mature players who with some development will provide instant impact. IE Win games! The problem is then that if a player is not drafted they go back to VFL/SANFL etc where the development is simply not as good. IE The old U/19 system meant players were a year older but more significantly could play reserves ( VFL) is there were injuries in senior team and also trained in the same areas/gyms as the senior list. Not saying to go back to that system but the competition should be probably U/20 and far more professional.

What people forget about the Geelong ‘super” team is that some players were drafted in 96, some in 97,98 then a big block in 99 and the rest 2000. That was the core. They played finals in 2004 but with older players around, then won in 2007, but still with players drafted from mid 90’s in there also!

So watching the AFL draft televised is really like watching BIG BROTHER auditioning in a kindergarten for participants. All this excitement in the 2012 draft for the 2107 season at least.

It seems that a club like Melbourne shot itself in the foot when Dean Bailey was shown the door. Lots of early draft picks and some wins on board with Bailey. Then a crap year because of a revolution in 2012. Then heaps of players thrown out and lots of mature age recycled players in 2013. IE they need some wins to survive as a coaching group, business and maybe even entity. So the whole development program was not given time. Brisbane in Voss’s 1st year shot itself in the foot by stalling development and stocking the team with recycled players. Thus the process had to start again and that simply takes years!

Compare this to Geelong & ST Kilda. Both teams had good lists in th early 2000’s  ( St Kilda’s more highly rated in draft) and at least after 7 to 8 years ( not 3!) they performed at a high level with very little change in the lists.

What I see now is an odd system when it comes to development. The TAC system is a system or “fishbowl” of its own. Players and parents feel in my opinion they have made it into the AFL system when they get selected in U/16 groups. The stats show 1) Very few get drafted & 2) More importantly young players need 3 years plus to have a ‘winning” impact on AFL teams.

Fitness staff in the AFL are on big salaries now but often it is better working at MACCAS than doing fitness at a TAC club. So the reality is that only the strongest will survive this system and once drafted this “strongest”  often becomes the weak link of an AFL team.

Oddly the AFL clubs that understand the system is too young have the best success with development. For example Collingwood and Sydney. Once you understand the need to either wait a few years or be selective in how development occurs then success can be maintained. And obviously West Coast Eagles have done a great job at re developing after 2005 team,  but in the end their older players still had to fire.

Physically it is a massive ask for TAC kids and I see many in my business that are so fit aerobically and can run a bit ( poor form usually) but are years behind in their overall development.Often lacking is core development, strength and conditioning, pure power and speed, ability to repeat speed and simply not having finalized maturation!

But so many people and managers pump their tyres up, that they perceive themselves as super athletes where nirvana is getting drafted. And few realize they need help urgently!

More to come!






December 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment