Strength and conditioning is important for umpires to ensure they are in the correct position to adjudicate play and to ensure they remain injury free throughout the season.
The AIS/AFL academy strength and conditioning program is broken down into four phases of the season (i.e. off-season, pre-season 1, pre-season 2, in-season).
The strength and conditioning requirements for umpires differs from players. However, the fitness, core strength and balance components of the program are all relevant.
Strength & Conditioning Programs - James Veale (AFL Conditioning and Talent Database Manager)
There are several areas of fitness required by an umpire that form the basis of the umpire’s fitness training:
Working muscles need oxygen and nutrients to operate efficiently. Cardiorespiratory endurance is the ability to supply these essential ingredients through the heart, lungs, and circulatory system.
It is possible to increase your cardiorespiratory endurance by including aerobic activities in your exercise program. They are called aerobic because they require an ongoing supply of oxygen at a much faster rate than under resting conditions.
Our sports require a good aerobic base whether they involve running, swimming, or rowing. While many of the activities may be of short duration or repeated bursts, aerobic fitness or efficient heart, lungs and circulatory system will assist greatly in the ability to recover more quickly.
Aerobic Endurance refers to the ability of the muscles to resist fatigue when repeating a sub-maximal effort over a period of time where oxygen intake and consumption are equal. E.g. jogging or walking.
Anaerobic fitness is the ability to resist fatigue when repeating near maximum effort over a given time when oxygen consumption is greater than intake. E.g. running or sprinting.
Speed, agility, and quickness are important components in tennis, athletics, hockey, various football codes, basketball, badminton, squash, volleyball and table tennis.
(Many of the above listed sports are played over an extended period of time and although all include short bursts of energy, they do require cardiorespiratory endurance capabilities to assist in coping with oxygen debt).
Anaerobic power requires the muscles to provide instant or short-term energy when the uptake of oxygen is not always readily available. Extreme examples would include events such as shot-put, long-jump, and sprints, as they rely on the stored glycogen in the muscles.
Flexibility refers to the range of motion around the joints or series of joints. The development of flexibility assists in the prevention of muscular tears and strains.
In order for a joint to move fluidly through its complete range of movement, in needs to be flexible. Lack of flexibility is triggered by differing factors such as the bone structure of a joint and the size and strength of the muscles, as well as ligaments and other connective tissues.
The ability of muscles to stretch to their optimum length is dependent on these factors. By including stretching exercises in your daily routine, you can greatly improve your flexibility. Stretching warms up the muscles by increasing the blood flow. By doing this you allow muscles and tendons to become more flexible, which in turn will decrease stiffness and reduce the chance of strains and sprains.
When a muscle has the ability to maintain sub-maximum force levels while contracting a muscle or muscle group repeatedly for extended periods it is said to have endurance, e.g. rowing.
Agility is the ability to change direction quickly while travelling at speed. This is an important element to an umpire’s running and positioning skills.
This article was originally written by Joel Morrison for afl.com.au