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Australian Football League challenges with a 4 day turnaround

Updated: Sep 16

An AFL game is one of the most physically demanding team sports. In a typical game, players can cover over 12km of running, with numerous high intensity efforts, accelerations, decelerations, and collisions. Considering the high physiological load associated with the game, recovery is particularly important, especially in the immediate post game period. Adopting appropriate recovery strategies during this time, is essential in the preparation for subsequent games during a competitive season.


2020 has posed significant challenges to the AFL season, particularly in regards to changes in the scheduling of games and the reduced recovery time between games. Due to changes in match fixtures and a condensed schedule, teams are sometimes required to play again after only 4 days. With less time between games, optimising player recovery is crucial in order to maintain a high level of performance within the team.


Following an AFL game, reductions in muscle function, increases in muscle damage, and increases in perceptions of fatigue and muscle soreness have been reported amongst players. Muscle soreness is reported to peak around 24-72 hours post competition, therefore strategies to reduce feelings of muscle soreness become even more important with the shorter turnaround between games during this AFL season.


Compression garments can be greatly beneficial in situations where there is a limited time for recovery. Research has shown a reduction in muscle soreness when compression garments are worn in the recovery period following intense exercise. Compression garments have also been reported to improve an athlete’s perceptual recovery which in turn may influence psychological readiness to perform in subsequent games.


Considering the high importance of recovery when there is a short time between games, having the most advanced compression garments will provide teams with an advantage in terms of player preparedness. Off the shelf compression garments which are based purely on measures of height and body mass do not provide an accurate fit or compression regime for each individual athlete, this can limit their effectiveness for recovery purposes.


A number of AFL teams are now turning to customised compression garments from Cape to ensure their players get the most benefit from these garments. The garments are custom-fit and configured to exert the optimum recovery compression regime, with dedicated wearing protocols. The feedback we have had volunteered to us from AFL Strength and Conditioning coaches is that Cape garments improve recovery rates by 20%. Such a recovery advantage is even more significant during tight turn arounds.


Cape compression garments are custom fitted to the individual athlete based on a 3D scan. This ensures more consistent compression compared with off the shelf garments which exert variable pressures on the body. Cape also provide specific compression regimes and protocols to ensure athletes get the optimal benefit from wearing the garments. When the demands for recovery are at the highest, Cape is the obvious choice to ensure athletes are well prepared to perform at their best sooner.

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