Up and Coming Juniors Hit AFL without Well-Developed Kicking Skills

Local Australian Rules football officials often show up for AFL duty with limited experience at the bounce, since the practice is considered dangerous and is not used at the lower levels.

The same sort of thing, differences between the way the game is played at the development level and the top ranks, is the primary contributor to the poor kicking that has been glaringly evident to this point of the Toyota 2018 AFL Premiership competition.

No less than premiership coach Paul Roos said as much when he said that development at the junior level was an “Absolutely massive issue,” as players arrive in the AFL without the complete development to contribute immediately, and that AFL coaches had to spend excess time developing young players.

Roos pointed out the need for more attention and money for the elite junior level clubs, telling Fox Footy’s On The Couch, “It’s ridiculous we’re the only professional football league in the world that has four to six full-time coaches in our development area. We’re developing players when they get to the club. The four or five coaches at Melbourne should be at the Sandringham Dragons. The four or five coaches at Collingwood should be at Calder (Cannons).

He said that clubs should limit the number of developing players at the elite junior level to a number manageable by the number of available coaches.

The ability to kick according to the situation, which often presents a player with the dilemma of kicking in a fashion other than the player’s preferred one, leads to poor outcomes. Few players arrive in the AFL with the necessary versatility, unless they develop alternate kicks on their own.

Roos and others are noticing something that has been going on for the past generation, if not longer. Juniors are often presented with so many distractions and other activities that they are spread too thin and do not enjoy the freedom to be just kids with time on their hands to experiment.