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On the ball: does the AFL need to design a better footy?

By Hans Westerbeek

The AFL commissioned has a comprehensive review of the critical performance characteristics of Australian Rules footballs – the first for more than 30 years.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

In the game of Australian Rules Football (as with other football codes), few pieces of equipment are more important than the football itself.

And yet the relative attention paid to the ball by the AFL is quite at odds with the equipment’s importance and the amount of money the league turns over. In fact, it’s been well over 30 years since the AFL last looked at the specifications and standards that determine and prescribe how an Australian football should be manufactured.

But recently the AFL commissioned the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victoria University to conduct a comprehensive review of the critical performance characteristics of Australian Rules footballs.

Changes
In most other football codes, such as soccer, rugby league and rugby union, administrators have actively and regularly considered the playability and performance characteristics of the ball. In soccer in particular, new balls are designed for every major championship and several manufacturers try to steal market share from the leaders by introducing new and innovative products.

This often involves the use of new synthetic materials, surface covers and panel composition. The fact there is much more competition between ball manufacturers in...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Hans Westerbeek is with the Institute of Sport, Exercise, Active Living at Victoria University. This article was originally published at The Conversation.