The relationship between repeated kicking performance and maximal aerobic capacity in elite junior Australian football

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Australian football (AF) is a physically demanding game, requiring players to engage in a range of anaerobic activities interspersed with prolonged aerobic exercise. Coupled, players have to perform a range of technical skills, the most fundamental of which being to effectively kick (dispose) the ball. The aim of this study was to ascertain the extent to which aerobic capacity influenced kicking performance in AF. Twenty four elite U18 players competing in the same U18 competition performed the Australian Football Kicking test (AFK) three times with the yo-yo IR2 completed twice (between each AFK), with no rest between all three AFKs. Linear mixed models (LMM) reported the extent to which kicking speed and accuracy scores were influenced by the level reached on the yo-yo IR2. Results indicated that players who recorded a higher level on the yo-yo IR2 produced a faster average kicking speed following each AFK (P <0.01), while for all players, kicking speed was faster and more accurate on their dominant kicking leg regardless of score on the yo-yo IR2 (P <0.01). The LMMs also reported that those who maintained kicking speeds following two yo-yo IR2 also had higher competition kicking efficiency than those who reported reduced kicking speeds. These results show that aerobically proficient U18 AF players who attain a relatively higher score on the yo-yo IR2 may be better equipped at preserving their kicking speed. Thus, coaches may wish to integrate both technical and aerobic drills in an attempt to preserve a player’s capability to execute ball disposals with a high velocity.

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