AFL pre-season training can start anywhere from 4-6 months prior to the start of the season and generally consists of high volume and low intensity. The main focus of these training sessions is on extensive aerobic and anaerobic interval training to build cardiovascular fitness while focusing on game-specific cardio requirements. Skill work is woven into the cardio activity drills. Along with these activities there will generally also be a focus on creating a strong core, strengthening certain areas (depending on player history and whether there are any injuries). This is a sample pre-season training program:
- Warm up: 1 km jog followed by a 10 minute stretch
- Shuttle runs: Include some variations such as jogging, high knees, bottom kicks, side steps and sprinting.
- Boxing circuit: In groups of three people. One person is doing a lap around the oval as fast as they can (roughly 400m), one person is boxing while the third person is holding the focus pads. When the runner gets back everyone drops down for 25 push-ups then rotate so that everyone has had a go at each activity.
- Squats and lunges: Using the shuttle cones. Walking lunges to the first cone, sprint back, walking lunges to the second and sprint back, walking lunges to the third and sprint back. Follow this with traveling jump squats to the first cone, jog from first to second and then jump squats again from second to third. Repeat combination three times.
- Back to the boxing circuit, repeat the same but this time the runner must complete 2 laps of the oval.
- One hour of high intensity skills including fitness, sprints and running in all the drill combinations.
- Finish with some core exercises and a good stretch.
As you can see from the above program, the main focus is improving player fitness, however components of strength, core and skill work is also woven into these sessions. This is usually done with fitness work and completed at a high intensity.
Personal trainer, Tavia Ambler