Posted on Thursday 13th April, 2023


It is great to see more and more women participating in sports, particularly in AFL. Unfortunately, as a result there have also been a large increase in the number of injuries seen as well. Common injuries for females during sports occur in the legs (ankles, knees and hips), as well as concussion injuries.

On the top of the list is non-contact ACL injuries. We’ve all heard of the dreaded ACL injury, which can knock athletes out of competitive play for a good year. Stats from the AFL report that females can be up to 5x more likely to obtain leg injuries, and over 9x more likely to obtain an ACL injury when compared to males. As with all things health related, prevention is better than a cure which is why the Prep-to-Play program was developed.

The Prep-to-Play program was created by experts on and off the field to help reduce the risk of injuries, as well as promote participation across all age groups and abilities.

The program includes all aspects of play, including:

  1. Appropriate warm-up.

A good warm up has moved beyond simple static stretches in isolation. This helps prep not just the muscles and joints for sports-specific movement and requirements, but the whole body for game play. The Prep-to-Play warm up program can be performed in a matter of 10 minutes, and is recommended before every training and match. Aspects of the warm-up include hip/leg mobility, acceleration/deceleration, jumping, change of direction, contact, and balance drills.

  1. Football skills.

It may seem obvious that high level training and game play relies heavily on the skills of an athlete. This can come from hours and hours on the field, but also can come from regular refinement and awareness of our movement and technique. Training how we land after a jump, how we tackle, how we receive a tackle, how we handle a ball. These can all influence our risk of injuries. The Prep-to-Play program incorporates skills that prepare players on how best to approach certain situations, for example protecting vulnerable body areas such as your head and neck during tackles or even avoiding tackles where possible.

  1. Strength training.

This one is a no brainer, and is something we already do quite well but requires regular input. Strengthening muscles that help you run faster, make you more agile, jump higher, kick further, brace yourself in contact situations will all help to make your overall game play better.

  1. Education

Whilst time during play and training is crucial, we can’t downplay the importance of education. Knowledge on knowing how long to recover, what is considered acceptable soreness, when to pull back following an injury, nutritional aspects, and managing physical/mental stress is all part of Prep-to-Play’s education component.

Having a chat with your coach and health care professionals is all part of what makes a successful game and experience for all those involved in Women’s AFL.

For more information or to make an appointment with our physiotherapy partner, Physio Plus click here