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australian rules football - AFL

Australian rules football (Australian football) is a unique code of football played widely in Australia. It attracts participants from across a broad level, from children to the community to the national professional competition known as the Australian Football League (AFL). Australian football is a contact sport that often results in injuries from tackling, kicking, running, handballing, marking and constant physical
competition for the ball.

see below for more on this program.


How many injuries?

  • From 2002-2003, 3,944 people were admitted to hospitals across Australia for Australian football-related injuries.

  • In Victoria, from 2002-2004, 9,562 people visited Victorian emergency departments for Australian football-related injuries.

  • 48% of hospital treated injuries occur to players aged 15-24 years.

  • Recent studies have indicated that the rates of injury in junior Australian football, particularly AFL Auskick, are very low.


The causes and types of injuries

Injuries to the lower limbs account for over 50% of all injuries. The most common specific injuries are

  • soft tissue injuries are the most frequent the most prevalent injuries in the AFL are hamstring strains followed by quadriceps and calf muscles.

  • knee hip and ankle injuries are greater due to the 360 degree nature of the game. Full contact collision frequently occurs from any angle increasing the risk of joints becoming twisted or caught and exposed to potentially traumatic forces.

  • shoulder sprains and dislocations

  • leg and foot stress fractures

  • ankle sprains or joint injuries 

  • shoulder sprains and dislocations refer to the glenohumeral joint specifically, as acromioclavicular (AC) joint and clavicle pathology are categorized separately and cause fewer missed matches

  • groin strains and osteitis pubis was previously the second-most common injury

  • overuse injuries occur frequently among higher level and older players.

  • sports medicine clinics most commonly treat knee and ankle sprains.


Factors increasing your injury risk

  • Having had a sports injury in the previous 12 months.

  • Being aged 25 years or older.

  • Playing in midfield positions.

  • Persistent back problems diagnosed by a health professional.

  • Increasing age and decreasing quadriceps flexibility, for sustaining hamstring injury.

  • A history of two or more injuries to the lower body, in the previous Australian football season.

Concussion Protocol - Links (click to open)

AFL Video presentations

The Management of Concussion in Australian Football


FootyFirst is a five level progressive exercise training program that has been developed specifically to reduce the risk of common leg injuries in community football – groin, hamstring, knee and ankle. It is based on the latest and best scientific evidence. 

FootyFirst begins with a warm-up, followed by leg strengthening and conditioning exercises, and training to improve balance, landing and side-stepping skills. It requires only standard football training equipment and can replace the traditional warm-up

Performed correctly and frequently, FootyFirst will improve performance and reduce injury risk. It will improve players’ leg strength and control – from their hip to hamstring, groin to thigh, lower leg, knee, ankle and foot.

FootyFirst should be part of all training sessions. It should be completed at least twice a week.

Once players and coaches are familiar with the exercises, the warm-up should take about 5 minutes, and the strength and conditioning exercises and jumping, landing and changing direction activities about 15 minutes. 

Resources include the FootyFirst Coaches’ Manual, a series of posters illustrating the exercises at each level and the FootyFirst Coaches DVD. See links below:

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