WITH women having an ever increasing increasing presence in the AFL North Coast competition, a new study has looked into the mechanics of how AFLW players kick compared to male players.
The new study – ‘An Investigation into Kicking in Women’s Australian Football’, found that women had a greater knee and hip range of motion, and faster knee action speeds while kicking for both their preferred and non-preferred kicking legs.
The women also showed 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 elite Australian Rules Football, leading to athlete-specific strengthening programs to avoid injuries.
In addition, by identifying technical kick skill differences for individual athletes, tailored coaching strategies specifically for female players could result in more accurate and powerful kicks.
The findings and continued research in this area have the potential to shape the future of women’s coaching practices and highlight the need for dedicated, stand-alone sport science research and specific coaching for elite women’s AFL, which could be applied to other elite women’s team sports.
The study could also help develop the talent of local women’s competitions around the country such as in the AFL North Coast.
The AFL North Coast women’s competition debuted in 2018, as the Sawtell/Toormina Saints won the inaugural premiership.
The Port Macquarie Magpies won the flag in 2019, while the Coffs Harbour Breakers won the club’s first women’s premiership in 2020.
The inaugural AFL North Coast Youth Girls competition was also established in 2017.
Women continue to have a growing presence on the AFL North Coast competition.
The introduction of the women’s competition to AFL North Coast in 2018 has been one of the sport’s most exciting developments at the local level.
In the space of just four seasons, girls and women now comprise 33% of the League’s over 1,000 participants, and that number is expected to grow again in 2021.
This year will see Katika Adams become the first woman to coach an AFL North Coast senior men’s team, while the Lismore Swans Laura Cahill is the first ever female president of a senior club.
Jill Woodlock and Shirley Linnett are both Life Members of AFL North Coast, while Amanda Guthrie became the first woman in the state to umpire a Senior men’s Grand Final when she officiated the 2016 North Coast decider.
Six AFL North Coast Junior clubs have had female Presidents (Sawtell Toormina, Port Macquarie, Coffs Breakers, Bellingen, Nambucca Valley, and Manning Valley).
AFL North Coast’s Community Football Manager Paul Taylor told News of The Area the women’s game had seen a dramatic growth in such a short period of time since its inception.
“We’ve only had a Youth Girls competition for four years, and a women’s competition for three, but females now make up 33% of our participants,” he said.
“And this year we’re expecting to see growth in both of those competitions in terms of more teams and more players.”
Taylor said the introduction of female competitions to the AFL North Coast had coincided with the inception of the AFLW.
“The catalyst was that girls didn’t have a competition to play after juniors,” he said.
“And with the AFLW starting in 2017, we had a number of calls asking about the possibility of a women’s competition,
“There is no doubt whatsoever that having a product like AFLW on TV got women on the North Coast interested in playing.”
Taylor said that further growth of the women’s game would be facilitated by AFL North Coast.
“We have a strategic plan for our pathway for young female players which will be to create a second age group for junior girls and down the track a third age group,” he said.
“It’s about creating a pathway from pre-youth to post youth so that female players from the region have the chance of eventually playing elite level football such as the AFLW.”
Taylor indicated that women played a vital role in all aspects of the AFL North Coast competitions.
“It’s obvious that women are valued not only as players, but also as administrators, coaches, and umpires, from one end of the region to the other and everywhere in between.”
By Aiden BURGESS