Australian football is one of the most popular sports in Australia.
Due to the sport's high contact nature, injuries to players occur frequently.
Here are some pointers to ensure you and your team can prepare for the season, reducing the risk of sports injuries and increasing your chance of success.
The causes and types of injuries
Common causes of injuries are being tackled, hit by another player, hit by the ball and falls.
Injuries are more likely to occur at the start of the season.
Injuries to the thigh, knee, lower leg and ankle are most common in non-hospital-treated injuries.
Overuse injuries occur frequently among higher level and older players.
Factors increasing your injury risk
Having had a sports injury in the previous 12 months.
Being aged 25 years or older.
Playing in midfield positions.
Persistent back problems diagnosed by a health professional.
Increasing age and decreasing quadriceps flexibility, for sustaining hamstring injury.
A history of two or more injuries to the lower body, in the previous football season.
There are also factors that decrease your injury risk
Playing Australian football in the last 12 months.
Cooling down after training sessions.
Playing a modified rules version at junior level.
Participating in one or more hours per week of weight training during the season, to decrease the risk of lower body injury.
Good preparation is important
Undertake training sessions prior to competition to ensure readiness to play.
Undertake pre-season training to improve strength, flexibility, stamina, agility and balance. A trained coach or fitness advisor can guide you in the right direction.
Before playing competitively learn, practise and use correct skills and techniques.
Complete a warm up including stretching, slow jogging and running activities, with and without a football.
Eat a balanced, nutritional diet.
Drink water before a game or training session.
Avoid drinking alcohol 48 hours before a game.
Seek professional advice about the most appropriate boots to wear for playing conditions.
Wear a mouthguard, preferably custom-fitted, at all times.
Protective headgear, ankle braces and thigh protectors can protect players with a history of head, ankle or thigh injuries.
Drink water during and after a game or training session.
Avoid drinking alcohol after a game.