The pathway from Juniors to AFL can be a tough and torturous one. Most players start playing at about 8-10 years old and enter the AFL as an 18 year old. There so many years of development in those junior seasons. Players need to learn what position they play best which is very difficult as people grow. They also need to know and understand where to position themselves on the ground, kick and handball off both sides, get stronger, faster, fitter, etc etc etc. The list of things to master is endless, that’s why so few players make it to the elite level.
Once a player makes it to the elite level you would assume most of these factors have been mastered. Wrong. There is a whole new journey about to take place for new draftees. Emma Quayle, a football writer from The Age, recently published a great article on the journey of AFL draftees. Her piece demonstrates the way new AFL players go about their development from juniors to being an elite AFL player.
Quayle outlines the major physical and technical things that need to be worked on over a four year period to ensure a player has the best chance to become an AFL player. The main objective in their development in the first four years are;
Year 1: Learn how to become a professional athlete then develop those skills.
Year 2: All off field fundamentals in place as well as work into doing a full pre season.
Year 3: Working into full physical AFL training and playing and start to plan life.
Year 4: Start to become a director and leader around the club.