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From basic ball handling to more challenging ruckwork, Australian Football: Steps to Success provides full technical guidance. Carefully selected drills speed the learning process and help monitor progress. You then apply those skills on the field with the tactical approaches essential to commanding every facet of the game. The final training guidelines ensure that practice sessions are varied, efficient, and fun while physically preparing players to execute the skills and withstand the rigors of one of the most challenging team sports.
From Michelangelo Rucci, Chief Football Writer The Advertiser
Australian football never stops changing - and yet it basically stays the same. That is, there are skills that cannot be changed, just perfected. But how these skills of kicking, marking, handpassing, protecting a team-mate carrying the ball and tackling an opponent holding the ball are combined to come up with winning tactics in Australian football never stand still. The great irony of Australian football is that if the skills were executed with greater precision, let alone understanding, the tactics would be more effective ... and probably stay more simplistic.
In the past decade, Australian football â€" certainly at its elite AFL level â€" has had the balance swing to the wrong extreme. The need for speed has encouraged AFL coaches to recruit athletes ahead of naturally gifted footballers. The consequence has been these coaches have then had to design game styles and tactics to cover up the weaknesses in football techniques of their new-age players.
Andrew McLeod is a dual Norm Smith Medallist, an honour won as the best player in the AFL's 1997 and 1998 grand finals. He also is a three-time All-Australian footballer, an honour to recognise he warranted selection in the best combination of 22 AFL players for a season in three different years. The irony here is that McLeod has, by a difficult knee complaint, been denied the pace to out-run the new-age quick-footed athletic footballer. But his skills have never been dulled â€" and have shone brighter. This is evidenced in 2005 by his miraculous goal while hugging the boundary line of the Telstra Stadium that sunk Collingwood. As McLeod lined up, with the Collingwood cheer squad to his left and just a paper-thin view of the goal, it was speed of mind and skills of a champion that allowed the Adelaide match-winner to execute a kick that fell to the feet of the goal umpire.
McLeod and club-mate Trevor Jaques (who, as the Crows' training services manager, has had to carefully manage the battered knee of his club's champion) have struck a timely partnership to hopefully reinforce the skill factor of Australian football. And, at the same time, they have offered a much-needed course on the new tactics of the game â€" a must-read for even those who watch hundreds of hours of AFL football and become jaded by the imbalance of new game-plans against simplicity.
Australian Football: Steps to Success was first published by Human Kinetics as the work of Jaques in 1994. Much has changed since then, prompting this second edition with the wisdom of experience offered by McLeod. It is a skills book, much-needed in a time when so many basic traits in football need to be revived. Sadly, too many teenagers enter the AFL unaware the way they hold the ball â€"particularly with a drop punt while lining up for goalâ€" influences their kick. McLeod is a master worth reading to appreciate the skill, not just by young players, but every coach developing the next McLeod. It also is a training book, helping the same coaches prepare their programs. It also is a tactical book, very much needed in a time when so many football fans, brought up on the simplicity of old football, struggle to appreciate why coaches and players now speak of screens and zones and do such radical things as kick across goal or not man up at kick-ins.
McLeod and Jaques fill the void in giving Australian football a detailed and well-planned guide on how the game is played and how it should be executed. Beyond the theory, they also offer anecdotes of how skill has influenced the results of games ... such as that day McLeod broke Collingwood with his deft kick on a boundary line.
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