loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

Round 1 AFL 2019, fitness and the media!

Now I am an expatriate in China working in S&C I still will watch AFL and in Shanghai there is a game for points every year! It has been since 2007 that I worked in the AFL but I have worked in elite sport since and also dealt with AFL players/VFL/TAC and local teams plus simply watch it so love an opinion.

The intriguing part of Round 1 is that it coughs up odd results and sends tremors through supporters and staff and provides the media with instant fodder. Articles and media  like the link below were everywhere.

   Nick Riewoldt blasts Essendon Football in the Media after Round 1 Loss to GWS

There are so many media people that cynically it seems best to be a bit brutal ASAP given the adoring public just lap it up. This is rather than simply say things like “ok that was a bad game and lets hope their JLT form doesn’t go into the season but blah blah lets wait and see in 6 weeks.” Boring media! Ha.

So without too much sports science or delving too much into nebulous terms like ‘culture” I will write down a few things that may cause what seems odd Round 1 and even Round 2 results.

  • I found it took 2 full practice matches plus maybe another half of full contact AFL on the back of a solid preseason to make sure a player was ready for Round 1. So some analysis needs to be done on the list to check who did a full preseason after Xmas and played 2*100 minutes plus games.
  • How many players had ops and were in rehab. They might be ready to play sport but not hardened and fit anaerobically for repeat efforts and for collisions and impacts. Melbourne? Again players who are fit aerobically and ok to play after rehab pre-xmas need 2 to 3 games and some adaptive period and then usually they are ready to rock and roll.
  • Does the team usually start slow and finish with a bang. Swans? I wont check the data but they seem to start slowly more often than not. Is that a plan? Are they happy with 3 wins and 3 losses at round 6, but on the back of managing their list in preseason cognizant of the fact it is a massive season.
  • Did the Match Committee simply get it wrong in Round 1 and maybe Round 2 and played an unbalanced list. Simply changing a few players means a different team in the same jumper is on the ground. From a fitness perspective this was massive for me because 2 running players could change the dynamic of how a team plays and  fatigues in early rounds given warmer temperatures.
  • Rounds 1 to 6 depend on fitness slightly more in my opinion. Then it becomes a slug-fest till finals and survival of toughest and smartest. So if you are not 99% ready on Round 1 you can cop a hiding.
  • One big issue in my opinion is getting the week off right. In season a week off is different because players are hammered but in round 1 there are so many issues. Central Nervous Systems being asleep, misjudging speed dosages at the end of week 1 of the bye and 5 to 6 days before Round 1. Often teams carry the same loads they did in the preseason games and don’t alter enough in season.
  • But the big one IMO is dosage of high intensity maximal efforts late in Week 1 of the bye and early in Week 2 of bye before Round 1. Added to this is the need to do something anaerobically at high intensity with repeat efforts. Getting the bye right is part science and part art.
  • The draw! Bad luck! GWS is on fire so the Bombers hit a gun team at home.
  • Not my area of expertise but did they try something different radically in tactics? Do they need to tweak or simply change. Sometimes I found coaching staff were guilty of analysis by paralysis in early rounds and then after 2 to 3 losses and 360 degree meetings the mantra was get the friggin ball and collide.

I could go on about reasons why form in Round 1 and Round 2 are not excellent form guides whilst it seems ( zero data here) that by round 6 or 7 some judgments can be made.

But all we get is a massive emphasis on the Coach and the Culture and subjective words and ex players blasting their old teams. Lets face it the people in the media need to preserve their jobs so they need to say something. Tough gig being in the media.


April 13, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment