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AFL researches its balls


A couple of years ago an April Fool's day article mooted that the AFL would insert technology into the football. Now in the media release from the AFL today it is set to become reality.

The AFL today released details of an unprecedented research project involving the in-depth analysis of the footballs used across all levels of the game. For the first time in the AFL’s history, a research study will evaluate the performance characteristics of Australian footballs and assess potential innovations that may further develop the game.

The AFL in conjunction with Victoria University’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) will be working closely with stakeholders across the industry, including the support of all Australian football manufacturers, as part of this project. Andrew Dillon, AFL General Manager – National and International Development, said that the football was such an integral and unique part of the game that it deserved a careful assessment to ensure quality, consistency and affordability into the future.

“This research project aims to examine a fundamental element of the game that has never before been subject to detailed analysis across every level of the code,” Mr Dillon said.  “As part of the AFL’s charter we have a responsibility to gather in-depth knowledge about all aspects of the game."

“This joint research will closely examine the performance characteristics of Australian footballs to see how we can maintain, or even enhance, both the playing and viewing experience.  For example, we know there is a natural variance in the specifications of AFL footballs - such as dimensions and different inflation levels - and via this research we plan to analyse these characteristics to work towards greater consistencies.
“It will also provide us with important information around the development of football technology, manufacturing and accessibility at the community level and the variation of performance within and across different brands.”
Mr Dillon said the AFL was constantly balancing the need to safeguard the code’s proud heritage with the modern demands of new technology and advances in manufacturing.  “Research and development are constants in our game and by undertaking this initiative we’re seeking a detailed understanding of Australian footballs to ensure our players and fans continue to participate and enjoy the game as much as possible,” Mr Dillon said.
Research will consist of two phases with the initial stage identifying key physical and performance characteristics of Australian footballs through a literature review and interviews with a range of industry stakeholders.
This will provide a baseline for performance and subjective testing and involves Australian footballs from Auskick sessions right through to the elite AFL level.

A second phase will involve a series of objective and subjective tests to a range of Australian footballs under varying circumstances. These tests will provide a performance variation comparison between balls within the same brand and across different brands, to identify the main differences in ball performance against each characteristic. Potential innovation and current technology, such as GPS ball-tracking, may also form part of this testing.

This research initiative will also provide valuable information necessary when assessing the quality and affordability of Australian footballs throughout all levels of the game.

Significant consideration will be given to junior and community football particularly in relation to the use of synthetic materials and the subsequent impact on affordability and performance.

Our readers outside Australia might want to suggest any local conditions that may affect ball perfomance - e.g playing on snow, astroturf, at altitude etc?

And see our poll.

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AFL researches its balls | 3 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
AFL researches its balls
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, May 03 2012 @ 09:16 pm ACST

Given that Rec footy (now AFL 9s) used a synthetic ball with dimpled surface for easier grip, and given that catching a footy is quite difficult compared with other football codes, I've suspected for some time that we may one day see an attempt to introduce a synthetic and dimpled footy at adult regular footy level.  I wonder if this will be a step towards that?

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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AFL researches its balls
Authored by: Josh Davey on Thursday, May 03 2012 @ 09:29 pm ACST

Lets hope we don't see a dimpled ball. Its all part of the fun of playing in the wet and trying to play with ball that refused to stay still.

One of the problems in our climate, is balls (especially the cheap ones) taking on water and becoming horrendously heavy and bloated (ruining your ball for future use), even after dubbing.

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AFL researches its balls
Authored by: Brett Northey on Thursday, May 03 2012 @ 10:28 pm ACST

One thing I don't miss about cold winter night training (where cold means around 5 to 10 deg C in Adelaide) was smashing the thumbs on a wet old soggy bloated footy, so from that viewpoint synthetic would be nice.

But you'd want them to fly through the air the same way, and certainly AFL 9s synthetic and dimpled footies are not as good through the air.  Much lighter and get affected by the wind and if you kick them too hard they don't travel so well either.

Brett Northey - Co-founder and Chief Editor of WFN
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