The AFL’s James Davenport says players and coaches need to accept there is no silver bullet to playing a more physical game.
“What I’ve seen from a player point of view, and the way that I’ve been in contact with them, is that there is a real need for them to accept that there are no silver bullets,” he said.
“When you have an athlete that’s really good, and you see them perform a certain way, then you go ‘well, it’s probably a lot harder than that, but it’s definitely a good way to go’.”
And when you get into the mental part, when you have a player that’s a real good player, and that’s the only thing that can be expected from them, then it’s like ‘well they’ve got to play harder’.
“They’ve got a different attitude to the game, a different mindset, and they’re going to have to learn that it’s OK to play hard.”
And so we need to get the right mindset and the right attitude from the players and the coaches, and we need them to recognise that it is OK to do that.
“Dr Davenpoint, who is also a consultant sports psychologist, has spoken at a number of AFL clubs, including Adelaide and Gold Coast, to discuss how footballers can adapt to the physical demands of the game.
He said some players were becoming too accustomed to being knocked around and not performing optimally, which could lead to injuries and the player being frustrated.”
So for them that’s something that they have to accept. “
So, for them, it can be really frustrating because you have to do things differently, which is not the case for most athletes.”
So for them that’s something that they have to accept.
They can’t just be like ‘oh yeah, I’ll get up and do this and that’, or ‘I can do this but it’ll be so much harder than this’.
“So that’s where we need a bit more honesty from them.
We need them, as a coaching staff, to realise that you need to play as hard as you possibly can, and if you’re not doing that, you’re putting yourself at risk.”
Mr Davenfield said there were some positives in the way the game was changing, including increased participation, but he said the focus needed to be on players learning to adapt and be successful.
Dr David Evans, the AFL’s chief medical officer, said while the sport was undergoing a paradigm shift, it needed to move in the right direction.
In his view, players needed to recognise they were not only at risk of injury, but also of mental decline.
The AFL is working with the sport to educate coaches and players on what needs to be done to prevent and manage these issues.
But Dr Evans also said the AFL needed to get serious about creating a culture that recognised the benefits of physical activity.
His comments follow a report from the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) last month that recommended players who want to play a more physically demanding game should play at least 15 minutes per week.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said the league had already invested $10 million to implement the new recommendations.
However, he said a key difference was that the AIS was recommending playing physical sports at the same rate that all other sports were.
If a player wants to play for another club or is not in the AFL, they need to meet with their club’s physiotherapist and get support, he told Fox Footy.
Footballers are the ones in the position to be most affected, and he said while there was still time to act, it would be wrong to ignore the concerns.
Mr McLachland said there was more than enough evidence to support his recommendations, and it was not a matter of putting the cart before the horse.
While AFL clubs have been in the business for decades, Mr McLachling said the game’s popularity had changed dramatically in the past 10 years.
Many players now work in a similar environment to a corporate office, where they are surrounded by other professionals who are also in charge of a team, and in many cases have to work from home.
This makes it harder for them and their families to take time off from their regular jobs and the impact that that has on the families of those players, he added.