Which Australian sport produces the greatest athletes? Part Five: Football

Ryan Buckland Columnist

By Ryan Buckland, Ryan Buckland is a Roar Expert


214 Have your say

    Football requires a mix of speed, endurance and agility. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    The final sport in our series is football, easily the most played sport of the five we’ve analysed. But does that have anything to do with the athletic prowess required to perform?

    Probably not, but it’s an interesting discussion point nonetheless. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2013-14 participation in sports catalogue, outdoor football had the highest number of participants aged 15 and older of all of the team sports (438,800 participants), while indoor soccer was ranked seventh (218,800).

    Of all of the sports we’re looking at, football is easily the simplest from a rules perspective: don’t touch the ball with your hands, don’t trip your opponent, don’t touch the ball if you’re standing goal side of the last defender on the other team when it’s kicked to you. It’s more complicated than that, but not significantly so.

    Football’s beauty lies in the finesse required to play the game. As rugby league coach and fitness expert Rohan Smith said when we discussed the athletic requirements of football, “aside from cricket, football out does the other three codes as far as the need for co-ordination and execution of skill.

    “There’s lots of touches of the ball in multiple directions, and needing to use your head, chest and feet for ball control is not just unique, it’s remarkably skilful.”

    Agility is critical. Like Aussie rules players, footballers operate in a 360-degree environment. Cricket is remarkably structured, while the rugby codes play facing each other and can pass laterally or backwards. Football is completely open.

    “Football players need a quick first step, be able to start and stop on a dime, change direction constantly, all while controlling a ball with their feet,” Rohan said.

    “This is somewhat unique to football in the five sports we’re looking and doesn’t fit neatly with our categories, but I would say it’s largely an attribute of agility.”

    We see this play out with some regularity, with strikers and defenders embarking on battles of speed in which the ball cuts through a defensive zone.

    Strikers are quick, and all football players are required to have some semblance of straight-line speed. I wasn’t able to find any information on maximum speeds, but from video highlights, it is clear players that ply their trade as finishers can reach sprint speeds that many other codes would struggle to match.

    A lot of the activities of football players are quick adjustments from standing or slow movements like jogging to outright sprinting.

    According to American sports data company SportVU, midfielders can run an average of 11 kilometres a game across the two 45-minute halves. That’s more than the rugby codes, and gets close to what a key position player would put up during a 120-minute game of AFL.

    The athletic profile of the different position groups is significant. Rohan said many clubs consider their goalkeepers to be their best athletes.

    “Goalkeepers are required to stand, then jump, sprint, dive, leap and scramble. They have the highest percentage of involvements in the game that require all-around athletic performance.”

    These somewhat unique requirements of football lean against a player’s athletic prowess in the other categories. More than any other sport in this series, the collective subjective judgments of Rohan and I were difficult to place in the context of the other codes.

    Football players have significantly different requirements to the rugby codes and even Australian football where there is a requirement to have physical size and strength.

    Football needs wiry, quick-on-your-feet athletes; the average A-League player in the 2016-17 season weighed just under 76 kilograms – easily the smallest in mass of the five codes we’ve analysed in this series. Footballers are made of lean muscle, built to have a balance weighted more towards ease of movement than difficulty in being moved.

    The strength requirements of football players are more about winning position rather than physical domination, according to Rohan.

    “Football is more an isometric strength, where the other football codes require an ability to overpower, dominate and ultimately defeat an opponent.”


    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Key Information

    Ryan and Rohan are making these judgments based on the highest level of domestic competition in each of the sports – except for cricket, where the Australian Test team seems like the more appropriate comparator.

    In this series, each sport will be ranked on key categories. We’ll reveal the final scores and the top sport at the end of the series.

    Endurance: the length of time an athlete is required to perform at their peak, in a game and over the course of a season.
    Power: how explosive an athlete needs to be, in both speed and strength terms, over and above the “resting” state of play.
    Agility: a measure of an athlete’s required evasiveness, ability to change direction and be aware of those around them.
    Speed: how fast is a player required to move around the field, both in sprints and general play.

    Stay tuned for the next instalment when we’ll reveal the final scores and name which sport produces the best athletes in Australia.

    The full series
    » Part One: AFL
    » Part Two: Cricket
    » Part Three: Rugby league
    » Part Four: Rugby union
    » Part Five: Football
    » Part Six: Final Results

    This series is sponsored by by POWERADE, fuelling rivalry through the POWERADE POWERSCORE. The Powerade Powerscore, developed in conjunction with the New South Wales Institute of Sport, allows you to compare yourself to mates and elite athletes.

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    The Crowd Says (214)

    • June 28th 2017 @ 5:53am
      jeff dustby said | June 28th 2017 @ 5:53am | ! Report

      football is the greatest by far. people only play other sports when they realize they arent good enough to cut it on the world stage of football. it also has the most resilient fans, who cop it from the media and fans of insignificant local codes

      • June 28th 2017 @ 7:08am
        Realist said | June 28th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

        Thanks Ryan. Have enjoyed these articles.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Bobbo7 said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Sounds like a Donald Trump tweet there Jeff. You can appreciate all sports for their differences. It doesn’t need to be an us and them mentality, which sadly in Australia seems to be the default position of too many football fans.

        I like football, AFL, rugby, love cricket – they are all great sports in their own way.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 28th 2017 @ 3:59pm
          Waz said | June 28th 2017 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

          Sure, I love football, Rugby and Cricket as well but hate it when those sports attack football. It’s a one way thing. Then you have the media, sigh, there’s a whole new BS level that I don’t exoerience as a rugby or cricket fan. So football fans are paranoid but for a reason, people are out to get them lol

          • June 28th 2017 @ 4:07pm
            punter said | June 28th 2017 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

            Waz, you are going to get those AFL fanboys complaining about football fans persecution.

            However I know where you coming from. I love my cricket, golf as well.

    • June 28th 2017 @ 6:39am
      Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 6:39am | ! Report

      It’s interesting re the goal keeper – “They have the highest percentage of involvements in the game that require all-around athletic performance.””

      From a young age I looked at the soccer goalie and most identified with that player. From an Australian Football perspective I look at the soccer goalie and see someone who – other than not covering much territory – has the more interesting skill attributes. So – for me – from a young age I wanted to use both hands and feet and soccer sideline throw ins just don’t happen nearly enough!!

      The strength and fitness aspects of a single sport are generally driven by the competitive edge requirement within that sport. Union as looked at yesterday I often think of from the perspective of a naval battle group – a couple of big slow moving battleships, and progressively smaller cruisers to the frigates and destroyers zipping around. There’s pretty well no battleships in soccer – perhaps a cruiser in goal?

      I mentioned the other day about Darren Burgess – the former Liverpool fitness guy who has spent the last few years at Port Power in the AFL and now has been head hunted back to the EPL for Arsenal. His observation was that the EPL was still more of a chequebook based league – the competitive edge was more based on buying in the best. He suggested a competition like the AFL with strict draft/salary cap restrictions means that by necessity the clubs and players are more open to sports science to gain and sustain a competitive edge.

      This is interesting with respect to the notion of a sport ‘producing’ the best athletes.

      And I still look at soccer and the header and can’t help but shake my head at the notion of a sport in current times involving using the head to strike the ball. It is archaic and it was never actually designed to be a part of the game.

      As far as the skill level goes – it still befuddles me that soccer then allows for usage of specialists. Outside of the specialist ruckmen in Australian Football I would suggest that game to be the most egalitarian – i.e. if you win the ball, win the free – you take it. The other football codes all allow for taking the ball off you and giving it to one of your ‘betters’ – i.e. the specialist punter, conversion kicker, penalty kicker etc. That to me is a cross against those codes of football in the general sense – – clearly there are some individuals who are move skilled than others however it reduces the strategic imperative of getting them on the end of a play because the ball can be handed to them in a stop ball situation.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 8:55am
        Chris said | June 28th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

        Exactly what specialists in soccer are you talking about?
        No need for a 500 word response but in a nutshell what are you going on about?

        • June 28th 2017 @ 9:08am
          Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report


          I do believe I stated it clearly – –” i.e. the specialist punter, conversion kicker, penalty kicker etc.”

          In soccer – if a player earns a penalty kick (or even a free kick) he does not have to take it – teams trot out their specialist penalty kicker (Melb Victory for so long had Kevin Muscat – who as a result would always feature in the contest for the golden boot) or in the case of an IDFK then the specialist kicker for the structured set play scenarios.

          It’s a bit like pressing pause on a game of chess – your pawn got you the ‘field position’ and now we swap our Queen and pawn to best take advantage of that.

          To me – whomever wins the penalty should have to take it – and because they are all so skilled then it won’t be a problem!!

          • June 28th 2017 @ 9:22am
            Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

            “whomever wins the penalty should have to take it” Small minded thinking.

          • June 28th 2017 @ 9:41am
            Chris said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

            I actually thought you were brighter than this post. So taking a penalty kick (which constitutes about 0.01 % of a game of football) constitutes you to thinking that football has “specialists” which you insinuate is a negative.
            Name me one team (ever in the history of football) that has selected a player because he will take the penalties? Please enlighten us all.

            • June 28th 2017 @ 9:46am
              Ian said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

              “No need for a 500 word response but in a nutshell what are you going on about?”

              Love it Chris. Enlightened by Perry …hahaha

          • June 28th 2017 @ 9:49am
            Brian said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

            I wouldn’t mind that in football except for offside free kicks not sure how you are going to decide who earned the free kick.

            • June 28th 2017 @ 9:58am
              Chris said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

              And what if the player fouled was injured? Then what?
              Don’t you just love it when people who have no interest in the game come up with these hare brained schemes to “improve” the game.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 10:54am
                Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report


                Why does this happen only when discussing soccer.

                My comment around specialists – in this respect – applies across more than just soccer.

                American Football is the ultimate example of the specialist kicker/punter and that to me is ridiculous but HAS provided a handful of washed up AFL players with a 2nd career.

                I’ve not suggested in soccer that any player is specifically selected purely because of his capacity from the penalty spot.

                Your question back “And what if the player fouled was injured? Then what?” shows you don’t have nearly the level of intelligence that you claim was lacking on my behalf “I actually thought you were brighter than this post.”.

                What does any sport do when someone is injured?? I can see how this may be troublesome for the South Americans who tend to be lying on the ground in great pain much of the time.

                Clearly though – I’m talking about when the player has not been injured. This might include in Rugby that the playing scoring the touch down should be the player to take the conversion kick – to complete his play. However – I concede that that game is a bit like a military operation and so the cavalry, infantry and artillery are all separate components.


                re off-side frees – player nearest the offence? Player nearest the ball? Player basically most ‘in play’ at the time. Can all be a bit subjective – – however for the clearly objective incidents then it should be a no brainer.

                Main thing for me around a soccer penalty kick – if it’s counting towards the Golden Boot – then how are penalty kicks included by a guy who didn’t earn them? That should be a different category entirely to goals scored from general play.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 11:24am
                Chris said | June 28th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                Your posts always have a veneer of snide undertones (the reference to Sth American players for example) which is why I generally don’t bother commenting on them.
                Everything you say about other sports is compared against AFL for your point of references. Eg: The player that is fouled should take the kick.
                Maybe its good for AFL who knows? (Who cares)?

              • June 28th 2017 @ 12:09pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report


                Okay – so I throw in one tongue in cheek reference to the South Americans – there has been enough said about their approach to the game when players such as Adrian Trinidad and Fernando Brandan – – that’s open discussion, so it’s not really ‘snide’ as you put it.

                I will admit my reference to ‘specialists’ was a little unclear. The use of a situational specialist from the player roster on the field is very, very different to the American Football specialist brought off the bench and then sent pretty well straight back (the punter).

              • June 28th 2017 @ 8:38pm
                BrainsTrust said | June 28th 2017 @ 8:38pm | ! Report

                You have penalty shoot outs so the whole team has to potentially take penalties.
                The goalkeeper is the biggest specialist not the free kick or the corners.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 10:14am
                Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report


                Penalty shoot outs are a clear example of why relying too heavily on a ‘specialist’ kicker can be dangerous. Chile overnight managed to clean up Portugal before Ronaldo was required – – he was being saved for the ‘crunch’ kick. My point around taking penalty kicks is specifically around ‘in play’ during the game proper.

                The goalie – – like the joke about what do you call someone who hangs around musicians (A. a drummer) – – you can convert for soccer heads “What do you call someone who hangs around footballers? A: a goalie.

                Certainly he IS the ultimate on field specialist across all the football codes – but clearly disregarded when the assertion is made that soccer/football is played with feet and not hands. As per joke above – the goalie is often not considered….certainly he isn’t counted in the formation….4.4.2, 4.3.3,……I thought there were XI on the field??

              • June 29th 2017 @ 12:45pm
                BrainsTrust said | June 29th 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

                The problem with penalties is that you can’t practice them with the most important factor affecting the outcome.That is the pressure.
                Ronaldo has choked a lot recently in penalty taking.
                Look at his Portugal side, if thats the best of the rest they can;t replace him either.
                Matt Le Tissier took heaps of them and missed one
                Assuming your leaving out the American and Canadian forms.
                The biggest specialist is the rugby union props.
                Even over NFL because in rugby union because they won’t allow anyone else to play in that position. If the existing props and their replacements are injured they cancel the scrums. The reason is because the forces in the scrum are so great, its too dangerous for anyone to play that position and would risk spinal injuries.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 1:55pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 1:55pm | ! Report


                The pressure is such a wonderful factor so commonly ignored. Which is why an AFL player can miss from 20metres in front or a pro golfer can miss a 2 foot putt.

                If sport were solely the mechanics then it would be a tad boring.

                Rugby is very military in it’s formation structures and you’re right – and there’s no way you can substitute a destroyer for a battleship or vice versa. A game like Rugby Union also helps the ‘destroyer’ types look all the more quick and nimble because of the need for the battleships which don’t have a hope of keeping speed or manoeuvrability with the destroyers.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 2:12pm
                Nemesis said | June 29th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

                ” Which is why an AFL player can miss from 20metres in front or a pro golfer can miss a 2 foot putt.”

                You can’t equate taking a penalty, or putting a golf ball, with an AFL player shooting for goal.

                If a footballer was 20m from goal and there is no crossbar, there wouldn’t be a player on this planet who would miss the goal.

                If the golf hole was infinitely wide there wouldn’t be a player on the planet who would miss the put.

                To have a set shot from 20m and miss a target that has dimensions of:

                6.4m x infinity

                is beyond belief

                PS: The GK is not included in the formation because that’s the 1 position where the structure can never change. The LOTG stipulate there must be 1 – and only 1 – GK.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 4:06pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report


                20m out directly in front – so long as there are moving parts then it can go wrong.

                Should AFL players opt for a place kick? perhaps.

                What you seem not to understand is the impact of elevation on a kick – – less so at Etihad stadium – – however at all the open grounds the impact of wind can be very dramatic.

                First on the ball drop.

                Second on the flight of the ball.

                It feels beyond belief when it is done – and you need only do it once to create your own mental demons that will come back and haunt you the next time. That’s sports. Much of it is played above the shoulders and between the ears.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 4:17pm
                Nemesis said | June 29th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

                @Perry Bridge

                Is a place kick allowed for set shots? It used to be.

                If it is then there is no excuse about dropping the ball & wind. The target has infinite height & it’s around 6 metres wide.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 7:39pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 7:39pm | ! Report


                I suspect a place kick may still be legal – but that there wouldn’t be any legally accepted kicking tees. Probably not allowed to bring sand buckets out either.

                The interesting contrast is the more around the corner style of kicking for a place kick – generally the hip is more open and the leg comes in more of an arc. AFL kicking coaches over the years have tended to be very ‘straight lines’ in their approach – but, a guy like Lance Franklin is a pretty good example of using this style in executing drop punts pretty well.

                Just a note about the wind – recently I was at the MCG on a Sat night (Dreamtime at the ‘G) – there was an on ground ceremony before the game – there were 3 flags/flagpoles brought out on the ground – I took a photo to show how these flags were blowing in the exact opposite direction to the flags on top of the big screen scoreboard.

                Many players are very good field kicks – where the ball may never travel more than 10m in the air – and there’s far less concerned for splitting a target halfway through it’s flight as compared to placing the ball 5ms to the left of a teammate 45m away. Once you raise the height of the trajectory – as you have to when having a set shot at goal (the guy on the mark is an obstacle about 3m high – so the trade off between kicking from a few metres further back vs the higher trajectory needs to be made) means that any slight slice or hook will be more greatly accentuated (as per hitting a 3wood off the tee – – much more reliable to punch a 5 iron).

          • June 28th 2017 @ 9:53am
            Ian said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:53am | ! Report

            In football taking a penalty kick or free kick is a different type of kick to passing, short or long, trapping the ball, reverse fiddly back passes with a twist and turn whilst dribbling through one or multiple players.
            There are very, very good players who can take a kick earned from a foul to get into the box ‘to get an assist’ to another player but don’t have the same skill standard in shooting from the spot in front of the keeper.

            AFL may have one type of kick, football doesn’t.

            “it’s like a pawn being replaced by a Queen’

            I am loving your scrambling defensive comments to bring down this article.

            • June 28th 2017 @ 3:08pm
              me too said | June 28th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

              He’s right though.In soccer you have the specialist free kick takers, corner takers, and penalty takers. Why you guys are bleating like it is some kind of insult I don’t know. Soccer also has the single most different specialist of all the football codes – who us governed by his own particular rules (within the box anyway). Australian football does however have specialist rucks and a few designated line out kickers.
              And there are many types of kicks in australian football – more so than soccer. the drop kick, drop punt, torpedo, banana, dribbler, to name some. I agree with him and I have played soccer all my life – at a pretty decent standard – state and above. His opinion in no way belittles soccer. what belittles soccer in this country is this weird complex so many supporters have.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 4:07pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

                #me too

                Thankyou for reading my comments.

                I suspect some folk pick out a couple of words – assume the rest and then proceed to shoot the messenger!!!

          • June 28th 2017 @ 10:01am
            Ian said | June 28th 2017 @ 10:01am | ! Report

            Also, the ease of which goals can be scored in AFL, through the largest goals in world sport……..you would think most players, without ‘changing’ the player, could take a stab at getting it through the width of those goals the size of the Grand Canyon with no horizontal cross bar as a height restrictor.

            Then when you miss you get rewarded with a point.

            • June 28th 2017 @ 11:19am
              Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 11:19am | ! Report


              Who is trying to bring down the article? I’m not sure if you’ve been following the series thus far by Ryan. I’ve been happy to engage in the general sense.

              Already we can see some very code defensive soccer folk who just don’t get it.

              As you’ve brought it up – the “ease of which goals can be scored in AFL, through the largest goals in world sport”.

              You DO realise that you DO have to kick it yourself. Goals HAVE to be KICKED. Unlike say, Gaelic Football where you can knock it through….oh….and soccer where the opposition can do it for you!!

              You do realise the soccer goal is wider than the AFL goal (7.32 m post to post compared to 6.4m).
              You do realise that soccer only has one goalie (able to use hands to intercept) – in AFL everyone is a ‘goalie’.
              You do realise that a soccer goal counts even if the goalie touches it or the ball touches the post – in AFL these don’t count as goals.

              Yes – more goals are scored – it’s not easy – the oval field means there is less space to be found the nearer you get to goal which means more shots are taken from further out – – and since you don’t get a goal from ‘deflections’ it means the kick has to elevate over the nearest defenders raised arms as well as any who might be on the goal line.

              But – I’m pretty certain most of that nuance is completely missed by yourself.

              The irony of your first post above is that it reinforces my point – it IS a different type of kicking which you’ve asserted is beyond many of the players on the team.

              What you don’t seem to understand is that in AFL there are different kicking requirements as well – even kicking a goal from 30 metres (even from directly in front) is very different to hitting a team mate from 30 metres. Again – I doubt you’ll grasp this difference.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 11:25am
                Ian said | June 28th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                Of course Perry, I have ‘missed’ everything because you deem your analysis superior and no one can really understand your intellect.

                ‘Everyone in AFL is a goalie’


                Football players can place themselves between the player shooting at goal and the goal itself…but if they intentionally use their hands it is a foul. thus “everyone is a goalie’. The player shooting at goal can’t generally boot it 20 metres in the air and get a result.

                Like I said……biggest goals in world sport with a point for missing. Deflections result in a point.

                Sounds hard to score.

                You do get riled up and need to prove that AFL is better than football don’t you?

              • June 28th 2017 @ 11:28am
                Nemesis said | June 28th 2017 @ 11:28am | ! Report

                I remember watching the Rugby World Cup when it was in Australia a few years ago. An English player, Johnny Wilkinson had no problem kicking an oval ball between a target of infinite height from any angle. But, he said he worked on the technique for hours and hours.

                There have been AFL players who have wonderful technical ability with an oval ball aiming at an infinitely high target area. So, it can be done. Maybe, there’s too much emphasis on athleticism nowadays and the technical ability to kick the ball is considered secondary?

              • June 28th 2017 @ 12:53pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:53pm | ! Report


                Johnny Wilkinson was a Rugby player of the type Australia seems to shun – – i.e. a goal kicker – Australian’s seem to focus on ‘running’ Rugby and try scoring. I watched the 2003 World Cup with slight amusement to see the English using his capacity to challenge the defence given that via the try and the field goal there are two valid avenues of score accumulation in Union (much more so than League).

                He was very much the go to person though – effectively a field specialist, then too – he was the go to conversion kicker (kicking a static ball from an artificial ‘tee’). The Union ball is somewhat more rounded than an AFL Sherrin and therefore is easier to control.

                The AFL players who DO have wonderful ability are guarded very closely – more so these days than in the past which is why we aren’t see 100 goal a year players like we did back in the 1990s. I DO agree with you on the emphasis on athleticism and by extension of that – the full ground ‘press’ that is applied that sees no ‘stay at home’ forwards anymore.

                The key difference in particular on the conversion kicks is that Wilkinson could practice within a more controlled set of scenarios with a static/mounted ball – – knowing he was the guy to take the kick. So – even by contrast to a stopped ball scenario in AFL, i.e. a mark or free – it may be any player in any position – from beside the boundary next to the point post to 45-50m out and totally stretching his distance. The ball drop is as big a component as any – a bit like a fast bowler in cricket, there’s the run up, the mechanics of the ‘delivery’, the snap of the leg and release of the ball – get any of those a fraction wrong and the further out you are the less the margin for error.


                Yes – soccer players can place themselves between player and goal – and true – generally you won’t see high balls getting the result. Generally you don’t see goals score from a long way out either. Generally goals are scored nearer to the goal including via a deflection that wrong foots the goalie or where the goalies vision is obscured by the ‘traffic’ in between. And that reinforces my point.

                You DO realise there’s a 5 point difference from a goal to a behind.

                I’m not trying to prove which is better – you are doing that.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 3:27pm
                Agent11 said | June 28th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                “The Union ball is somewhat more rounded than an AFL Sherrin and therefore is easier to control.”

                but a field goal has to be drop kicked which makes it much harder to control than just punting it straight out of the hands or kicking it off the ground.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 3:51pm
                Ian said | June 28th 2017 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

                Perry says I am trying to prove football is better than AFL..
                Whilst you are the AFL fan boy on a football centric article espousing your nuanced criticisms of football with ever present undisclosed references to the AFL style of play.

                Ok Perry.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 4:05pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report


                I have stress that I’ve focussed on set kick situations – as that’s where the nod is given to the specialist to take the kick – conversion, penalty, corner, free kick.

                The field goal in League is seemingly only invoked now in the golden point scenario or for a token extra point on the tick of half time.

                In Union – it’s still a valid option but generally an option only to be used by 1 or maybe 2 exponents in any given side.

                I recall the All Blacks for many (11?) years had former AFL player Michael Byrne as their kicking coach (plus apparently much more – during a very successful era. (noting Byrne was recruited from the North Shore Bombers back in about 1976 – probably had a junior exposure to Rugby). He joined the Wallabies last year. During this time I recall a Wallabies kicking coach being left behind before a World Cup – he duly quit. Australia for many years seemed to NOT want to focus on a kicking game.

                The drop kick sadly has disappeared from Australian Football (although is worth 9 pts if kicked from outside the goal square in AFL Masters!!). It is a little to risky with the more pointed ended Sherrin while the Gilbert lends itself more. It’s certainly does bring another element – the bounce of the ground although when executed correctly there really isn’t time for that to play a significant part so long as you’re not dropping into a puddle/mud.

              • June 28th 2017 @ 5:52pm
                Nemesis said | June 28th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                “The key difference in particular on the conversion kicks is that Wilkinson could practice within a more controlled set of scenarios with a static/mounted ball – – knowing he was the guy to take the kick.”

                In Aussie Rules the place kick is allowed. Maybe, the players should spend more time practising technical skills rather than juicing up during their 6 months off-season?

              • June 29th 2017 @ 10:16am
                Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report


                You DO realise don’t you that this is the 5th instalment of a series of articles – – clearly it’s situated on the soccer tab. Get over yourself – – if you hadn’t noticed the previous 4 articles then that’s your loss and you’ve come to this cross code discussion a bit late – – that’s fine – – just don’t get territorial about it because in doing so you have entirely missed the point.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 2:05pm
                Ian said | June 29th 2017 @ 2:05pm | ! Report

                Yes Perry, still bleating on about others missing the point whilst you have a thorough knowledge and understanding of every issue.

                You come on this tab to put down football.
                That’s it.
                You can pretend it’s for another reason…….but the end result is the same.

                I like your new alias of “Me Too”

                That’s poor form.

                Go drop kick your banana.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 2:31pm
                Nemesis said | June 29th 2017 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

                @Perry Bridge

                Yes, this is the 5th instalment of a series of articles.

                What possible insights can we get about the athletic requirements of football players from ignorant people, who don’t watch the sport regularly?

                At least the author did research to write the article.

                You do not watch enough football to provide anything worthwhile on this topic. Go to the AFL installment & discuss how Burke & Wills discovered your game.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 4:09pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 4:09pm | ! Report


                I have absolutely no duplicate alias’.

                I do feel a tinge of sympathy for you carrying around that boulder on your shoulder.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 4:39pm
                Martyn said | June 29th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

                Also it’s easier to control a round ball than an oval shape. Drop the ball slightly of on a windy day and all is lost. Plus the fact that a soccer ball stays on the ground and is not affected by wind.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 4:43pm
                Nemesis said | June 29th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

                “Also it’s easier to control a round ball than an oval shape. Drop the ball slightly of on a windy day and all is lost. Plus the fact that a soccer ball stays on the ground and is not affected by wind”

                If this is true, then the AFL players should be doing this when they play amateurs from Ireland.

                If it’s so easy to control a round ball & pass along the ground. Do it in the next International Rules match & see if the best AFL athletes who earn A$300k per year average can beat players who work other jobs & play sport for fun.

              • June 29th 2017 @ 7:53pm
                Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 7:53pm | ! Report


                When the AFL guys play the Irish – they only get a short period of time to adapt to the round ball. The dilemma is that while the sherrin is more correctly kicked straight through the line – the round ball is often better kicked both off the instep and ‘around the corner’.

                It does take some work to change the instinct of a lifetime in body positioning. Heck – I’ve played backline so much where all I need to do in a marking contest is get side on and get on arm in to punch/spoil the ball. If I go forward I need to get front on, both hands up – – it actually totally changes the timing and balance for my run in and jump at the contest.

                What IS interesting is how well some of the Irish lads (identified as highly talented) who have come here have been able to be adapted to the Sherrin with NO bad habits and become excellent kicks. That in someways contradicts what I’ve said – but we’re talking the difference of say 2 weeks to get acclimatised compared to a full pre-season, practice matches and maybe a debut later in the first year or in the 2nd year so it doesn’t contradict quite so much!!!

          • June 28th 2017 @ 12:57pm
            Realist said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

            Wouldn’t you also include rugby league and union as well? They have a specialist kicker for penalty goals, conversions, field goals, kicks in play, etc. Union have a specialist to throw the ball in for lineouts as well.

            Apologies if you made these comments on the rugby league and rugby union articles. I haven’t had time to go through them to see if you have or haven’t.

            • June 28th 2017 @ 3:25pm
              Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 3:25pm | ! Report


              I have indeed.

              There’s always someone on the League or Union who will try to claim some skill superiority because conversion kicker Joe Blow is really, really good and he must be better than the AFL types.

              I’m consistent on this one. I just want a fair and reasoned comparison.

              And one thing for sure – AFL goal kicking can be like playing speed golf – it’s kinda okay on the long and medium game but for the short game having your heart beating out of your chest and sucking in the deep ones isn’t conducive to a good short game.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 10:53pm
        The Auteur said | June 28th 2017 @ 10:53pm | ! Report

        You objectively sound like a terrible person to be around.

        Much like child sex offenders, we should keep you away from the internet.

      • Roar Guru

        June 30th 2017 @ 12:50pm
        Matt H said | June 30th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

        Goalkeeping for me was horrible. What a way to spend a Saturday morning – at every moment you are either bored or terrified.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 28th 2017 @ 8:39am
      Stevo said | June 28th 2017 @ 8:39am | ! Report

      Incoming code war. 200+ comments by day’s end 😉

      • Roar Rookie

        June 28th 2017 @ 9:14am
        c said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        jeff dustby said | June 28th 2017 @ 5:53am lol

      • June 28th 2017 @ 9:14am
        Caltex Ten & SBS support Australian Football said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        When Aussie Rules writers come to the Football tab you can really smell the fear.. 😉 This article is going to be a doozie

        • June 28th 2017 @ 12:00pm
          jeff dustby said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          this article is one of a series encouraging debate across all sports

          • Roar Guru

            June 28th 2017 @ 1:28pm
            Mango Jack said | June 28th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

            Unlike your tiresome opening comment, Jeff, which was designed solely to provoke the code warriors.

        • June 29th 2017 @ 4:40pm
          Martyn said | June 29th 2017 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          Fear the smell

      • Columnist

        June 28th 2017 @ 5:36pm
        Stuart Thomas said | June 28th 2017 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

        All quite silly really hey Stevo? The point of the article is quite lost here.

        • June 28th 2017 @ 5:43pm
          punter said | June 28th 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

          Stuart, the article is very good & i thought Ryan did a very good job, however the AFL boys came a knocking ‘my sport is better’ & we bite like we do all the time.

          • Columnist

            June 28th 2017 @ 6:37pm
            Stuart Thomas said | June 28th 2017 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

            Agreed Punter. A real shame. Hardly a game on this planet I won’t watch. Only Union and Synchronised swimming really.

        • Roar Rookie

          June 28th 2017 @ 8:34pm
          Stevo said | June 28th 2017 @ 8:34pm | ! Report

          If you have the time on your hands to belt out a contribution good luck. Otherwise a neat piece to entice the code warriors. I’m looking forward to getting up in the early hours to watch a Confed Cup Semi. Quick sip of port and some kip and it’ll be time for the telly?

    • June 28th 2017 @ 8:50am
      Midfielder said | June 28th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report


      A key point IMO missed in your article is concentration, and this concentration in what technical Football folk call shape and this impacts on decision making by a player.

      For example a back in Football if they make a mistake it will more than likely lead to a goal..

      The concentration needed for 90 + minutes as a central defender as to closing down space going with a runner is a requirement that most people don’t have.

      Equally a top Striker being able to constantly make runs to open up space needs constant concentration as to your own teams shape and the opposition teams shape.

      Football is arguably the only sport, in your list, where the player who has the ball in the game decides how the game will be played. Whoever gets the ball get play safe, attack, hold a ball, slow a game down, speed a game up…..

      Skill execution, are also important in all sports … but turn off for a second and because of the low scoring nature of Football a game can be lost… concentration and decision making are essential for all professional players.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 8:59am
        AR said | June 28th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        “Football is arguably the only sport, in your list, where the player who has the ball in the game decides how the game will be played.”

        Surely a contender for the most bizarre comment of the year.

        • June 28th 2017 @ 10:55am
          Nemesis said | June 28th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

          Do you think it is possible for you to add even one comment about a Topic being discussed?

          What is truly bizarre is your daily stalking of every post Midfielder makes & just attacking him. Pathetic behaviour.

          • June 28th 2017 @ 12:01pm
            jeff dustby said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

            kettle black?

          • June 28th 2017 @ 12:43pm
            Midfielder said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report


            Thanks but I don’t read his posts and could not care less what he posts… no one in Football takes him for other than a T…….L … and my life is far more pleasant since I made a decision roughly a year and a bit ago never to read the posts of the AFLers as they don’t come to debate they come to divert, abuse, criticise and confuse… some have multi ID’s and one seems to be on a payroll.

            Whats funny is once upon a time their negative posts needed to be counted but not anymore they actually add to the Football net hit numbers …

            I suggest you join me in simply not reading what they post …

            • June 28th 2017 @ 12:56pm
              punter said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

              Boom, bang, straight into the back of the net Mid.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 10:26am
        Chris said | June 28th 2017 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        I’m sure most have seen this, but this doco on Ronaldo is worth a look

      • Roar Guru

        June 28th 2017 @ 1:33pm
        Mango Jack said | June 28th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

        An interesting point, Mid. Cricket is similar in demanding absolute concentration, particularly when batting. One mistake and your innings could be finished, even a match or series lost.

        Thinking about this, other football codes are probably more forgiving of mistakes. The higher scoring nature means there are more opportunities to recover.

        • June 28th 2017 @ 1:42pm
          Midfielder said | June 28th 2017 @ 1:42pm | ! Report


          Also you could add in both games the awareness of the position of players in the other side is critical in your concentration .

          In both games i.e a pass or a hit ball without knowledge of player movements around you can lead to major errors.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 1:47pm
        Al-Shazahd said | June 28th 2017 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

        “Football is arguably the only sport, in your list, where the player who has the ball in the game decides how the game will be played.”

        HAHAH are you serious? Players of every sports have their strength and weaknesses.

        Every player in rugby union and rugby league dictates how the game is played. The flyhalf in rugby union and five eighth are commonly referred to as the playmakers.

        Like other sports too:

        The pitcher in BASEBALL and bowler in CRICKET are able to dictate how the game is played.

        The point guard/shooting guard in BASKETBALL are able to dictate how the game is played.

      • Columnist

        June 28th 2017 @ 5:40pm
        Stuart Thomas said | June 28th 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

        As usual, attempting to steer the discussion back to the actual reasoning presented in the article. You are a class act mid. I make no financial gains from my writing yet my article about the beauty of the game and a tale about junior football and what makes the game special is somewhat ignored (it’s okay, I’ll get over it) while we allow this railroading of what is a sensibly written article. People keep falling for it.

      • June 29th 2017 @ 8:08am
        Aethelbert said | June 29th 2017 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        Shouldn’t you be out running?

        Didn’t you read the article?

    • June 28th 2017 @ 9:13am
      Perry Bridge said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:13am | ! Report


      “Football is arguably the only sport, in your list, where the player who has the ball in the game decides how the game will be played. Whoever gets the ball get play safe, attack, hold a ball, slow a game down, speed a game up”

      I know you said arguably – however – this is clearly and perhaps more so a feature in AFL especially where upon taking a mark a player can choose anything from playing on immediately to attempt a rapid continuation of the play or can go back for the kick and choose if need be to kick backwards to kill time or effect a switch.

      The low scoring nature of soccer amplifies a mistake – if it results in a goal (and thus any mistakes by refs/linesmen). The capacity to capitalise on a mistake is then the question. Mistakes happen in all the codes – and under fatigue as the game wears on. In any close contest a single mistake can be seen as crucial but certainly in soccer – if only 1 goal is scored then the mistakes leading to that are perceived as more important than mistakes that didn’t result in a goal. Rightly or wrongly – a bit of dumb luck???

      • June 28th 2017 @ 9:46am
        Ian said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        Here comes the enlightenment.

        • June 28th 2017 @ 10:00am
          Chris said | June 28th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

          I see the light!

      • June 29th 2017 @ 8:09am
        Aethelbert said | June 29th 2017 @ 8:09am | ! Report

        So, you’re saying there have never been any unforced errors in any other sport whatsoever?

        • June 29th 2017 @ 10:19am
          Perry Bridge said | June 29th 2017 @ 10:19am | ! Report


          “Mistakes happen in all the codes – and under fatigue as the game wears on.”

          • June 29th 2017 @ 2:07pm
            Ian said | June 29th 2017 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

            But remember, in football ‘it’s worse’. Of course.

            We can’t all score 80 goals in a game at the drop of a hat.

    • June 28th 2017 @ 9:14am
      Midfielder said | June 28th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

      Tis said there are three universal languages.

      Football (round kind]

      When comparing the top sports especially when we talk about athletes, the various articles have essentially looked at the professional level.

      What clouds this IMO is player numbers.

      If we take the best say 1, 000 athletes in each of the Football codes and divide by the estimated player numbers.

      Union has 5.8 say 6 million players world wide
      League has between 400 & 500 K world wide
      AFL has 450K
      Football has current estimate 400 million.

      Meaning to make the top 1, 000 players and this must be effected by their Althelic ability

      Union the best player in 5, 600
      League the best player in 500
      AFL the best player in 450
      In Football the player in 400, 000.

      When the competition for places is the top player in 400, 000 players it does make a difference on the combined skill set needed especially strength of mind.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 12:03pm
        jeff dustby said | June 28th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        where you pull those imaginary numbers from? where does athletics fit in?

        • July 2nd 2017 @ 12:25pm
          bryan said | July 2nd 2017 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

          The whole premise of this series of articles is flawed, as it is limited to a few particular team games.

          How about the outstanding athletes in the “Ironman” competitions?, Basketballers?,Field Athletics?, Cycling?,
          Swimming?,Tennis?, & so on.

          Is Timmy Cahill a better athlete than, say, Ian Thorpe, (OK,Ian is retired now, but the comparison is still valid), because he takes part in a competition which has many more participants?

          In fact, arguably some of the best athletes in the world spend their life in activities which are not even labelled as “sports”, such as Ballet & other forms of competitive Dancing, Circus Aerialists, & others.

      • June 28th 2017 @ 2:37pm
        clipper said | June 28th 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        I can see your point, although I don’t know why you went for the higher league figure and didn’t average it out, but there would be several factors in play here. The best in one particular sport that has far fewer numbers may be better than the best in a sport with large numbers.
        Also, a country that spends far more on sport than a poverty stricken nation would expect to have a greater proportion of very good athletes, even though the main sports may not be as popular world wide.
        But, on average, there should be more exceptional athletes in the top 1000 Football players than there would be in league, AFL or Cricket.

        • July 1st 2017 @ 8:31am
          Perry Bridge said | July 1st 2017 @ 8:31am | ! Report


          The key you refer to there around the ‘spend’ – – talent, pure genetic talent is only part of it, opportunity and then elite talent pathways and development along with a strong work ethic are still required to convert the ‘potential’ into a decent outcome.

          So – those reaching the top may be drawn from a far, far smaller available pool of realistic and developed talent.

          It’s the difference between suggesting an Indian F1 driver is 1 in 1.4 billion (or whatever the population is) so he must be the best of the best – – or, to be more realistic and suggest that there’s only a pool of a few hundred race car drivers and with respect to having the funding and support to have a crack at F1 and get there then there were only another 2 or 3 people in India who might fit that category. (this is all hypothetical of course).

          Soccer in many respects has had the luxury of laziness. It’s just a numbers game. The future stars will ’emerge’ – – high performance coaching and sports science are fanciful notions and not necessary etc etc. Throw enough darts at a brick wall and eventually one will stick.

      • July 3rd 2017 @ 12:55am
        Jeff Morris said | July 3rd 2017 @ 12:55am | ! Report

        I thought sex was the universal language.