Bulletin 7
The Continuing Hamstring Saga

Here we go again...another hammy! Matthew Richardson,...and another, Trevor Grant...and Oh Boy! yet another...Robert Murphy, all in the last couple of rounds.

The hamstring stretching regime employed by coaches at AFL level is obviously inadequate and certainly not sufficiently supervised by skills/fitness coaches. Look at the photograph on the right. This player is demonstrating the explosive stretching of his hamstrings in this across-the-body-snap, an event which occurs countless times during a game. Not only must the hamstrings stretch to permit this range of movement, but they must arrest the forward and upward movement of the kicking leg.

When one considers that this leg, weighing approximately 15kg, moves from 'toe-off' at the commencement of the kicking action to the position shown here in approximately 0.04 seconds, the task of the hamstrings to stretch, and at the same time put the brakes on this limb, is akin to stopping a runaway train! And coaches permit the useless frivolous stretching referred to in our last bulletin! We state in “The Science of Kicking' that to attempt to remedy inadequate hamstring length, as well as trying to strengthen this muscle group AFTER a player enters senior ranks is destined to fail. 'Too much going on' trying to achieve match fitness and master the skills of the modern game.

The task must begin in the very early teens, and hence supervision must fall to qualified teachers of physical education and sport, and even mums and dads at Auskick. These people are at the front line to recognise developing football talent and insist that the task be pursued diligently. Hamstring stretching can be arduous and at times painful, but will ultimately result in extended careers. Any aspiring league player who cannot achieve the position shown in the figure below by his mid teens should not be considered a serious contender for league ranks.

It can be done, and must be done, if hamstring tears are to no longer top the injury list following each home and away round. Watch for our June bulletin for information on hamstring anatomy and safe stretching hints.



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