AFL Queensland are responsible for the growth and development of Australian Rules Football throughout the state of Queensland. Through community clubs, school programs and local competitions the governing body provides a performance pathway across 13 regions, 24 leagues and 159 teams; supporting over 275,000 Queensland-based participants.
Heading up the performance programmes at AFL Queensland is High Performance Manager, Paul Turk. His aim is to provide aspiring footballers in Queensland with the chance to hone their talent and develop their skills in the hope progressing towards a career in the Australian Football League (AFL), the top tier of the game.
“We lead, educate and mentor young aspiring AFL players as they go on their three-year journey on our Talent Pathways program,” Paul explains. “Our aim is to give aspiring AFL footballers in Queensland elite-level experience and help them on their journey to hopefully getting drafted to an AFL club.”
Measuring Key Metrics
Paul has coached in various AFL clubs across his 14-year association with the sport. He was first introduced to Catapult during the five years he spent with North Melbourne Football Club.
Since Paul has a good understanding of Catapult technology and the performance benefits it provides, he decided that he would implement Catapult’s PlayerTek system. “Catapult systems are world class. Having used various Catapult systems at AFL level for many years, I knew straight away I needed to implement them into AFL Queensland’s talent pathways programs,” says Paul.
Following the implementation of PlayerTek, Paul specifically tracks the metrics key to Australian Football performance.
“With AFL football being a high intensity interval sport, we look at the distance players cover in high velocity zones, high sprint efforts, and max velocity. Then we assess if they are hitting certain speeds throughout a weekly training and game cycle.”
Player education is a central theme found within the various programs offered by AFL Queensland. Paul sees the use of PlayerTek as an effective tool to support those educational initiatives.
“Education is a cornerstone of our programmes. We educate the players on what we are tracking and key variables that can help them develop their game.”
Since introducing the wearable technology, Paul and his team have been able to identify and communicate the areas in which individuals can improve. “We can educate the players on the demands of the game, where they are now, and where they need to get to. We have sessions throughout their programs, educating them on how we use GPS and what marks they should be aiming for,” explains Paul.
Now that the players have a greater understanding of the areas in which their performance can improve, Paul says that “our athletes are really invested into their careers and are very interested in the programming and want to learn about GPS.”
PlayerTek has also enabled Paul to develop his own performance analysis, with technology bringing an objective angle to previously subjective aspects of his coaching.
“The technology takes out the guesswork. We know exactly what the athletes are doing, and it will help them to perform at the highest level.”
By making his insights more objective, Paul has become far more efficient in his approach, delivering more information to the players in a limited timeframe. “We don’t have the players for very long, so every session needs to count. GPS has been a vital tool for us in delivering each session,” he says.
Comments about Catapult
Over the course of his AFL career, Paul has used Catapult technology extensively to support his work. Whilst he has taken advantage of the performance improvements that the technology offers, Paul has also enjoyed the support that comes with being a Catapult client.
“I have always found the Catapult staff, truly professional and friendly, and willing to go the extra mile to help you achieve what you want out of their systems.”