AFL researches its balls
Thursday, May 03 2012 @ 04:10 pm ACST
Contributed by: Troy Thompson
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?
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