10 tips for Aussie Rules beginners
Starting out in Aussie Rules
Aussie Rules growing popularity, in part aided by attempts of the Australian Football League to promote the game globally, means there’s no better time to get started in Aussie Rules. Here are some basic tips to help you along the way:
Get a taste through ‘Touch Aussie Rules’
You can get a taste of the game by playing a non-contact version of the game. Touch Aussie Rules can be played by all and uses many of the same skills used in the full version including kicking, marking, handballing and bouncing. Teams are mixed gender and ability, being a great intro for all.
Practice alone or in pairs
You don’t need an entire team to practice. Aussie Rules can be practiced alone by kicking the ball in the air and marking it yourself or handballing the ball at a target. Another way of practicing is in pairs with a 'kick-to-kick' session in the park.
Learn to bounce the ball with both hands
Bouncing the ball is a key skill, but being able to do it with either hand will enable you to guide the ball down better and kick with either foot. Being able to kick with both feet will also be an obvious advantage and should be worked on.
Wet weather bounce
On wet days when the ground is wet or muddy, when attempting to bounce the ball, it may either skid away or fail to bounce at all. In conditions like this, the ball should instead be touched on the ground, using both hands.
Bounce the ball far enough in front
When bouncing the ball, it should be bounced far enough in front so that you can catch it while on the move. If running at speed, the ball should be thrown further in front — the distance the ball is thrown being directly related to player speed.
Work on your fitness
The fitness demands of Aussie Rules are great. Players may cover over 15km (over 9 miles) in a typical game, made up of many short high intensity sprint efforts. As such, players need to possess good fitness as well as the other skills such as kicking, marking, handballing, tackling, bumping and jumping.
Don’t backchat the umpire
After the award of a free kick of mark, don’t backchat the umpire. You will quickly learn that backchat to the umpire usually results in a 50m (55yd) penalty whereby the player awarded a free kick or mark advances towards goal by 50m (55yd).
Wear a mouthguard
Not all pro players wear one, but really you should if you want to save those pearly whites. A mouthguard or gumshield should be worn and preferably one that has been custom-fitted rather than an over the counter ‘boil-and-bite’ mouthguard.
Get your diet right
With plenty of ground to cover during a game and training, you’re going to need to meet your energy requirements. The footballer needs a well balanced diet, with around 55 to 60 per cent coming from carbohydrates, 10 to 15 per cent from protein and around 25 to 30 per cent from fat.
Learn from the best
There’s no better way of learning than watching the best. Check out the positional play and tactics employed by some of the top stars in the AFL, especially those that play in a position which may be best suited you.