Winging it: Bringing in the experts

AFLQ Community football writer, Beth Newman, is pulling on the boots this season.

With a week off last weekend, I’ve been throwing myself into training and trying to improve myself.

I think I’ve overdone it a bit, though.

After training this week, my leg has such a massive bruise that it looks like someone has run me over.

The biggest wakeup call came when I was told that I, in fact, kick the ball twice in one action.

While I was tempted to argue that that just shows I’m putting 110%, I know enough about footy to know that once is enough.

In a bid to fast-track my development, I decided to invest in some R&D this week.

Working at AFL Queensland, I have a wealth of knowledge at my disposal, in the form of retired AFL players.

So, I asked some of those in the know around the office how to turn myself into a competent winger.

Michael Conlan – AFLQ CEO (210 games with Fitzroy)

It all comes down to the fundamentals, starting with basic skills.


To learn how to kick a footy, it has to feel natural. Take a ball with you everywhere – in warm ups, cool downs, even on run throughs sometimes, and practice bouncing it.

Bouncing the ball helps to improve your ball-hand control. Once you have that, then kicking becomes a lot easier.

Practice kicking on your non-preferred foot whenever you can.


Footballs are an odd shape and sometimes you just don’t know where it will bounce. So, try to catch the ball before it hits the ground.

When you’re catching the ball, put your hands in a ‘W’ shape, with your thumbs as close together as possible.

If you don’t know whether you can make it, don’t hesitate, just try to catch it before it reaches the ground.

If it goes to ground, put your body behind the ball, rather than side-on, when you go to pick it up. If your body is behind the ball, you’re less likely to be tackled.

Going for the ball

Never be more than a kick’s distance away from the next play.

Don’t wait for the ball to come to you – go and get it.

Always try and be first to the ball.

Mark Browning – AFL Academies Manager QLD/NSW?ACT  (251 games for South Melbourne/ Sydney)

In play

Voice is the most important thing. There’s no point playing wing unless you call for the ball.

If you’re a winger and you come down the side screaming for it, you’re going to get given the ball.

When you’re not involved in the play, stand behind the ball, between your opponent and their goals.

At a stoppage, make sure you are at a 45 degree angle, ready for the ball to spill out, where you can see your opponent and the ball.

Craig Starcevich  AFLQ North Queensland Development manager (124 games with Collingwood. 1990 Premiership player and 20 games for Brisbane Bears)

You should  only play for clubs who wear black and white vertical stripes (Good start, since I’m playing for the Red Lions)

Never hand pass inside your own forward 50.

Only kick on your right foot (left footers are a bit strange!!).

And play for as long as you can, because us oldies wish we still were!!

Based on Starce’s advice, I’m already down one for not playing with a black and white side. But everything else is definitely workable.

This weekend, UQ is playing two games, one at 12pm against Caboolture and then one at 2pm against Griffith Moorooka.

This week, the Westside News flagged our game as the game of the week, so the pressure’s on.

I’m still waiting to find out if I’ll be picked for the main game, but either way I‘ll have a chance to put some of my newfound knowledge into action.

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