Landing Mechanics in AFL
By Frankie Devitt – iNSPIRE’s Sport Scientist
In the sport of AFL and many other high-intensity sports, injuries can present themselves in many situations. In 2018 there were 39 new injuries cases recorded within clubs every season, which resulted in 164 matches missed per club, per season (2018, AFL Injury Report). One of the main causes of injury is the poor use of correct landing mechanics, used when landing from a jump or a mark during the game. This can lead to many different injuries, such as leg, ankle, groin, arm, shoulder and in the worst cases, the head can be damaged as a result of a bad fall.
Two of the most common injuries occurring when landing a mark/jump include:
A Rolled Ankle:
A rolled ankle is a common result of landing incorrectly, which can happen when a player lands their body weight onto their ankle on a bad angle. This happens often during high-intensity sports like AFL, with 10% of new injuries per season caused by ankle injuries including cartilage injuries, lateral/medial ligament sprains and syndesmosis injuries. (2018, AFL Injury Report)
ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Injury:
ACL injuries are such a common injury in many physical sports, as it is one of the four ligaments in the knee that provides the main stabilization for the knee joint. This ligament is commonly injured when the knee is hyperextended, resulting in a tear or sprain, which makes up 12% of new injuries per season in AFL. (2018, AFL Injury Report)
Landing mechanics are an essential knowledge base for athletes that perform high jumps, hard landings and running activities, which is why young players need to learn the fundamental landing techniques to safely execute these actions during games.
There are some key principles to remember that can help reduce the risk of these injuries:
- Maintaining your strength and making sure the muscles around your joints are strong enough to withstand high impact on joints, bones and muscles.
- Use the correct landing techniques to prevent injury and minimize absorption of high impact pressures to the body during sporting activities
Practising these techniques will mean that soon your body will land safely and the following steps will be second nature to your body. This will allow for maximum performance in young athlete’s sporting activities, both professional and leisurely.
So let’s break down the landing and see what things we need to do:
- Control the hip and the knee when landing. To control these joints, don’t allow the hip and knee to swing inward or outward on landing. This technique ensures the muscles are the best length and position to keep your hip, knee and ankle stable and strong during high impact landing situations.
- Keep the knee and toe direction the same. This will reduce the risk of any strains or sprains, as the alternative and incorrect position would put your joints in a very weak and vulnerable situation.
- Ensure you have a ‘soft’ and slightly bent knee when landing. This will allow your muscles to absorb a lot of the force going through your body and prevent a lot of injuries that happen when the knee is locked straight.
These landing mechanics have been researched and suggested by our sports science professionals here at iNSPIRE, to provide young athletes with essential injury prevention techniques. Through following and practising these techniques, it will help to prevent your muscles from getting seriously injured during athletic and recreational activities.
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