Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Auralpressure Blog

In a recent development, the Australian Football League (AFL) has made changes to its annual combine test battery, specifically removing skinfold testing due to concerns related to mental health and body image. This decision has sparked a significant amount of debate and criticism from players and AFL club officials alike.

The Importance of Skinfold Testing

Skinfold testing is a widely used body composition assessment method that has been a part of the annual Draft Combine for over 20 years. This test plays a crucial role in evaluating players’ overall fitness and performance, alongside other assessments like medical, physical, psychological, and skills tests.

The test measures body fat percentage by pinching the skin at various points on the body. This information is valuable as it helps determine the level of excess fat a player might be carrying. Excess body fat can affect an AFL player’s ability to jump, move freely on the ground, and even increase fatigue. These aspects are vital in the game of AFL, and knowing a player’s body fat percentage allows the sports science staff to guide them towards achieving optimal physical performance.

Addressing Concerns and Moving Forward

While the decision to remove skinfold testing has received criticism, the focus should be on addressing the underlying concerns rather than eliminating this important assessment. The issue lies in how the test results are presented to the players. Instead of body-shaming, a more constructive approach would involve educating players about the benefits of skinfold measurement and how it can enhance their performance and contribute to the team’s success.

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Skinfold testing should be viewed in the same light as any other component of fitness testing. It provides valuable insights into areas players can improve upon to become better athletes. If a player’s 2km time trial is slow, additional training on the track is necessary. If their vertical jump score is low, incorporating extra leg exercises at the gym can help. Similarly, if a player is carrying excess body fat, a sports dietitian can guide them in making dietary changes to improve their overall fitness. The aim of these assessments is to empower players to achieve personal growth rather than to shame or criticize them.

Future Implications

It is unlikely that skinfold testing will be reintroduced to the combine test list. However, AFL clubs can still utilize other methods to estimate body fat in potential draft picks. One such method involves using height and weight measurements to calculate BMI. However, it is important to note that BMI is not an accurate measure of body fat in individuals with greater muscle mass, such as football players. Therefore, if clubs value the insights gained from skinfold testing, they may choose to continue using it within their training programs, even without the combine results.


Q: Why was skinfold testing removed from the AFL combine test battery?
A: Skinfold testing was removed due to concerns related to mental health and body image. The focus is now on adopting a more constructive and positive approach to player assessment.

Q: How does skinfold testing benefit AFL players?
A: Skinfold testing provides valuable information about a player’s body fat percentage, which is crucial for evaluating their overall fitness and performance. It helps identify areas for improvement and guides players towards achieving optimal physical performance.

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Q: Can AFL clubs still assess body fat in potential draft picks without skinfold testing?
A: Yes, AFL clubs can use alternative methods like calculating BMI using height and weight measurements. However, it’s important to note that BMI is not an accurate measure of body fat in individuals with greater muscle mass, like football players.


The decision to remove skinfold testing from the AFL combine test battery has generated significant discussion. While there are concerns surrounding mental health and body image, it is crucial to address these issues rather than eliminating this valuable assessment tool. By adopting a more supportive and educational approach, players can benefit from understanding the positive impacts of skinfold testing on their performance. By focusing on personal growth and improvement, we can elevate the game of AFL and ensure players reach their full potential.