AFLW RESEARCH A GAME CHANGER
Research by Victoria University reveals new insights into how female Australian Football League players kick compared to male players, with future implications for injury-avoidance and improved performance.
Led by Dr Emily Cust, An Investigation into Kicking in Women’s Australian Football is the first study of its kind with AFLW players.
Dr Cust completed the unique three-year study in 2020 as part of the VU-Western Bulldogs research partnership. A 3D motion-capture system measured foot and ball velocities, and kick impact efficiency, movement patterns and strategies.
The results show differences in movement patterns between women’s and men’s kicks: the women had a greater knee and hip range of motion, faster knee action speeds and less knee bend on the support leg during higher impact kicks.
The study is important because of the high impact and repetitive nature of kicking in the elite sport, leading to athlete-specific strengthening programs to avoid injuries and tailored coaching strategies that could result in more accurate and powerful kicks.
Dr Cust says, “The AFLW has a unique set of constraints such as altered rules, reduced training and sport science support structures, less defined athlete development pathways, and a high number of cross-code athletes transitioning from another sport. Consequently, the transferability of men’s research to the women’s game has been questionable and largely unknown.”
Find out more about Dr Emily Cust’s research and Victoria University’s Institute for Health and Sport.