Top player: the 4 main skills you need to play AFL

AFL, or “footy”, is one of the hardest hitting sports in the world. Not only does it require outrageous physical strength and fitness, but it also requires a host of cognitive skills to play with expert precision.

Top player: the 4 main skills you need to play AFL

Whether it’s finding and executing a pinpoint accurate pass over 40 metres, taking down an opponent who may be a few kilos bigger than you, or finding that quick handpass out of a tough scramble, there are a host of skills to master before you can become an elite player.

But hey, you might not be trying to become a pro, and may just want to take up the game for fun, in which case why not grab some quality gear from the AFL team store and work on these fundamental skills?

1. Kicking

Kicking is probably the most essential skill to footy, why? Because without the ability to kick you cannot score any points, so essentially, you need to be able to kick the footy and kick it well. Not only this, kicking is an essential part of clearing the ball out of your defending 50, as well as finding a teammate to mark the ball in your attacking 50, so this is an essential part of the game that should never be overlooked.

There are many ways you can practise your kicking ability, with the best being simply to head down to your local oval with a mate and have a little kick-to-kick. Otherwise, practising goal kicking and using targets are other fantastic ways to hone your kicking ability. Once you start working on this valuable skill you should start to see your ability to both pass and shoot with the foot improving exponentially with every game.

2. Handpassing

Footy has become a more congested affair, with much of the game taking place in ramshackle, all-in midfield battles. Defenders are more reliable, meaning you can’t just go bombing long kicks all over the oval and expect your teammate to take an easy grab.

Times have changed and the game is more frantic, fast-paced, exhilarating, and this means the sharp handpass is almost on-par with the kick when it comes to its importance. Of course, you cannot score with a handpass, but this doesn’t mean you won’t need it on multiple occasions with every match you play. Target practice is one of the best ways to increase your hand passing ability.

3. Speed

It’s no wonder as to why professional footy players spend as much time focusing on their fitness as they do their match skills - speed is absolutely essential to being a great player.

Think about it: you’re chasing a ball all afternoon, trying to beat your opponent to said ball so that you can grab said ball and take off with it. You need to be able to do all that for a couple of hours and this doesn’t come without a little hard work.    

4. Endurance

To be able to keep moving at such intense speeds you need a little endurance, too. There is no point in being incredibly fast on one or two occasions and then not being able to back it up for the rest of the match, and so you need to undertake a raft of endurance exercises like running, biking and jump rope to keep up that all-important match fitness.

These are the four main skills you need to play footy like a pro. It’s a great sport and one you can especially enjoy playing with your mates in the winter months. These skills can be taken into your everyday life, too, so grab your gear and get down to the park for a bit of a kick!