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Differences in Physical Capacity Between Junior and Senior Australian Footballers

Kelly, Stephen J.1,2; Watsford, Mark L.1; Austin, Damien J.3; Spurrs, Rob W.2; Pine, Matthew J.2; Rennie, Michael J.2

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p 3059–3066
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001720
Original Research

Kelly, SJ, Watsford, ML, Austin, DJ, Spurrs, RW, Pine, MJ, and Rennie, MJ. Differences in physical capacity between junior and senior Australian footballers. J Strength Cond Res 31(11): 3059–3066, 2017—The purpose of this study was to profile and compare anthropometric and physical capacities within elite junior and senior Australian football (AF) players of various chronological ages and stages of athletic development. Seventy-nine players, including junior and senior AF players from one professional club, were profiled using 11 assessments. Junior players were divided into 2 groups based on chronological age (under 16 and 18 years) and senior players according to years since drafted to a professional AF team (1–2 years, 3–7 years, and 8+ years). Parametric data were assessed using a 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), whereas nonparametric data were assessed using a Kruskal-Wallis ANOVA. The magnitude difference between players was measured using the Hopkins' effect size (ES). Significant differences were evident between under-16 players and all senior player groups for anthropometric (p = 0.001–0.019/ES = 1.25–2.13), absolute strength (p = 0.001–0.01/ES = 1.82–4.46), and relative strength (p = 0.001–0.027/ES = 0.84–3.55). The under-18 players displayed significantly lower absolute strength (p = 0.001–0.012/ES = 1.82–3.79) and relative strength (p = 0.001–0.027/ES = 0.85–4.00) compared with the 3–7 and 8+ players. Significant differences were evident between the under-16 players and senior player groups for explosive jumping and throwing tests (p = 0.001–0.017/ES = 1.03–2.99). Minimal differences were evident between all player groups for running assessments; however, the under-16 players were significantly slower compared with the 8+ players for the 3-km time trial (p < 0.02/ES = 1.31), whereas both junior player groups covered significantly less distance during the Yo-Yo IR2 (p < 0.02/ES = 1.19 and 1.60). Results of this study display a significant deficit in strength between junior and senior AF players.

1Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia;

2Sydney Swans Football Club, Sydney, Australia; and

3Brisbane Lions Football Club, Brisbane, Australia

Address correspondence to Stephen J. Kelly,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.