Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

Fitness Testing for AFL

Fitness plays a crucial role in the success of modern AFL football. Measuring fitness during training helps establish baseline measures, identify strengths and weaknesses, and monitor changes over time. In this article, we will explore the recommended fitness tests for assessing AFL players and their importance in the game.

The Importance of Fitness in AFL

AFL players require good physical size, excellent running speed and agility, and high aerobic capacity. To ensure the selection of prospective players aligns with these requirements, the AFL conducts a draft camp at the end of each year. This camp includes a battery of fitness, physical, and psychomotor tests, providing valuable insights into player capabilities.

Recommended Fitness Tests for AFL Players

Here are some of the key fitness tests used to assess AFL players, many of which are conducted during the AFL Draft Camp:

  • Body Size: Anthropometric measures such as height, hand span, arm length, body mass, and skinfolds are important factors to consider. While tall players have an advantage, there are successful AFL players of various heights. Excess body fat can impact vertical jumping ability, movement on the ground, and overall endurance.

  • Strength: Grip strength and 1RM Bench Press are crucial indicators of an AFL player’s strength.

  • Power: Vertical jump tests, including AFL-specific running vertical jump tests, are essential for assessing leaping abilities required for marking or contesting a bounce down.

  • Speed: The 20-meter sprint test measures acceleration, which is vital for breaking away from opponents, while top running speed is advantageous for longer sprints, such as making a lead.

  • Agility & Reaction: AFL-specific agility tests evaluate players’ ability to quickly change direction, an essential skill for getting clear of opponents. Quick reaction time is also crucial for AFL players.

  • Anaerobic Capacity: The anaerobic sprint-recovery test assesses players’ ability to perform high-intensity bursts of activity followed by rapid recovery.

  • Endurance: Endurance tests such as the yo-yo test, the shuttle run (beep) test, and the 3km time-trial gauge players’ aerobic fitness. Depending on the playing position, some players may cover over 10 kilometers during a game.

  • Flexibility: The sit and reach test measures players’ flexibility, which is important for injury prevention and freedom of movement on the field. Flexibility assessments are typically conducted during medical sessions.

  • Skill Tests: Kicking efficiency, goalkicking accuracy, and clean hands handball are essential for evaluating players’ overall skill level.

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Example Test Protocol

An example test protocol for AFL fitness testing would consist of a wide range of physical tests tailored to the demands of the game. As an illustration, we’ll look at the test results of Brett Deledio, a senior Richmond footy player from 2009. His impressive results included excellent body strength relative to his size, a high VO2max endurance score, and exceptional leg power (vertical jump).

Overall Football Ability

In addition to physical abilities, AFL talent scouts consider various other non-measurable aspects of the game when assessing players. Here are 14 key performance indicators that AFL talent scouts used to rank players based on an article from 2005:

  • Kicking ability
  • Marking ability
  • Handpassing/vision-awareness
  • Clean hands
  • Ball-winning ability
  • Pace
  • Endurance
  • Recovery and agility
  • Durability
  • Leadership and self-discipline
  • Aggression, intensity, and second efforts
  • Football character
  • Competitiveness
  • Football smarts

Relevant References

For further information on fitness testing and career progression in AFL football, refer to the following study:

  • Pyne DB, Gardner AS, Sheehan K, et al. Fitness testing and career progression in AFL football. J Sci Med Sport. 2005.


Q1: Why is fitness testing important in AFL?
A1: Fitness testing helps assess players’ baseline measures, strengths, and weaknesses, and monitor changes over time. It plays a vital role in identifying players’ physical capabilities and determining their suitability for the game.

Q2: What are the key fitness components for AFL players?
A2: AFL players require good physical size, excellent running speed and agility, and high aerobic capacity. These components contribute to their overall performance on the field.

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Q3: How are AFL players assessed for flexibility?
A3: AFL players’ flexibility is assessed using the sit and reach test. Flexibility is crucial for injury prevention and freedom of movement during games.


Fitness testing is a crucial aspect of AFL football. It helps measure players’ physical capabilities, identify strengths and weaknesses, and monitor changes over time. AFL players undergo a range of tests that assess body size, strength, power, speed, agility, reaction time, endurance, flexibility, and skill. Talent scouts consider both measurable and non-measurable aspects of the game when evaluating players. By understanding the importance of fitness testing and focusing on the key components, players can strive for excellence in AFL. For more information and resources, visit our website,