Improving AFL Goal Kicking Virtual Reality

Improve AFL Goal Kicking Virtual Reality

AFL is a dynamic and difficult sport that has many skills that athletes need to master, however like every other sport there are certain skills that can be compared across all levels of competition.

So this idea is not untested or unproven, it is just that Virtual Reality is the tool to enhance Mental Imagery or Visualisation for athletes.

In Australian Rules Football that is Set Shot Goal Kicking Accuracy. We can improve AFL Goal Kicking with Virtual Reality combined with Focused and Dedicated practice.

It does not matter if you are playing at the highest level or playing in Div 4 on a Friday night, Goal Kicking comes down to 3 things that we call RCT!

Routine: Building a great routine that you can replicate no matter how fatigued you are or the pressure that you feel.
Technique: Ironing out problems within your technique, create something simple and robust.
Certainty: Building absolute Certainty that you are able to execute if you follow your Routine and Technique!

Putting RCT together

Before we move forward let’s take a step back!

For example, to work on an athlete’s Goal Kicking we would have him/her wear a headset and watch themself in the 3rd person execute successfully over and over and over again. We do not show any misses!

We can improve AFL Goal Kicking with Virtual Reality combined with Focused and Dedicated practice and what we call VRREPS.

How does this help? Well, the athlete notices that if they maintain a consistent Routine and their technique is solid and also consistent then they can create a deep belief that they are set up to succeed.

This creates a feeling of Absolute Certainty within athletes mind that they will, in fact, kick that goal.

But, it is not that simple! How do we get to this point of an athlete wearing a VR Headset?

This is a process that we have built recently working with an athlete from a NEAFL team on the Gold Coast.

We recorded the athlete kicking goals from 3 designated spots within the 50 meter arc in Immersive 360 Video. The athlete then noticed some problems within his technique.

This practice was not just pinging away at the goals, it is a focused dedicated practice of the skills of building a solid routine and also technique. This is very important, focused training is key.

We continued on this path and also had the High-Performance Coach involved as well to help with honing the technique and routine.

Things that are important in a routine are activities like breathing and resetting to start the routine, this could be via breathing, stretching, jumping etc.

Of course, this dedicated and focused training has made a huge impact on not only the number of shots that are being kicked in training but also the shots being made in a game!

So far we have talked about two parts of how we put together our Virtual Reality training for Goal Kicking!

Dedicated and Focused training on aspects of Goal Kicking such as Routine, Technique as well as execution.

Using Virtual Reality to hardwire the mind for success by using the Routine and Technique we have built allows us to develop a sense of Absolute Certainty that we will succeed if we do everything we have trained to do.

However, there is one wild card here to consider!

Fatigue! When you kick goals in a game, you are quite often fatigued and this is difficult to replicate at training!

So, in addition to the Experiential Repetitions within Virtual Reality and the Dedicated Focused Practice of the Technique and Routine we needed to find a way to then practice under load.

We could have the player run sprints but that is not really useful. So, a way we have been able to incorporate Goal Kicking under fatigue into training is to have the athlete Kick a Goal with a man on the mark after hard physical drills such as Keeping Off’s.

This replicates a game situation and really puts the polish on how we can help train AFL players to kick goals more successfully.

One part of the magic of VR is that it creates what we call presence! The athlete when wearing the headset feels that they are actually out on the field wherein reality they can be anywhere.

They are able to get this extra work in without putting any additional physical load into their bodies and also avoid the past constraints of only training when training is being held!


The other part of the magic with VR is the power of Visualisation. But unlike other Mental Imagery, VR paints the picture so that you are able to see it, not just imagine it.

There have been many studies on the effects of Mental Imagery/Visualisation on athletes in the past. Also many top athletes current and past have used Visualisation to enhance their performance and succeed.

So this idea is not untested or unproven, it is just that Virtual Reality is the tool to enhance Mental Imagery or Visualisation for athletes.

Again, VR Video leaves nothing to the imagination, you can actually sit back and watch yourself succeed over and over again. Make no bones about it, this is powerful!

It is important to understand that VR training is not passive, the work still has to be put in. Virtual Reality is a tool that brings all the hard work of the athlete together.