With the 2021 AFL season now complete, we chatted with one our Sport + Exercise Medicine Physiotherapists, Jay Anderson, about his involvement in the AFL and with the Essendon FC (Bombers).
How and when did you become involved with the AFL?
I first started working in the AFL with Carlton in 2012. I was fortunate to work with Carlton until the end of 2016, when I relocated to the Gold Coast to take up a role with the Gold Coast Suns. I worked with the Suns for 4 years, prior to returning to Melbourne and taking up work at Alphington and sharing my time with a role at the Essendon Football Club.
What do you find most enjoyable?
The most enjoyable thing about working at the elite level is the comradery between the athletes and the staff. It's not every day you get to work in a team environment where everybody is dedicated to achieving the same goal.
What do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging part is high stress quick decision making. There is a lot that goes into making a game day decision regarding whether or not an athlete should return to the field. You are balancing the stage of the game and importance of the player to the team, with risk of injury or further injury and increasing the demands of other players by having one less player on the field. You also need to have well developed clinical reasoning and clarity of thought processes in the heat of the moment.
How does this differ from other sports you are involved in / athletes you have worked with?
Most of my sporting experience has been within the AFL. I think the biggest difference in this environment is number of staff and support personnel for the players. With such big playing lists, the athletes have fantastic resources to utilise which is unmatched in individual sports.
Because of the ongoing COVID situation, it was obviously another unusual season for the AFL – how do you think this effected the players, club staff, and your work with them?
The hubs certainly had an influence on the players during the 2020 season. Most clubs were fortunate to not spend extended periods of time within the hub system during 2021, so the impact on the players was significantly less. The AFL system was really lucky to have players and staff able to work throughout the pandemic when many others were not. Clearly the lack of the crowds also influences the momentum and feel of game day.
How do you feel this experience will help you in treating your patients at Alphington Sports Medicine Clinic?
Working at high level in sport means that we always have to stay up to date with current research and new trends in sports medicine. It allows us to bring back our knowledge from high level athletes, and apply this to the patients we see in the clinic, and allows us to understand the level of detail required to return patients to what they love to do.
For more information about Jay Anderson go to: https://www.alphingtonsportsmed.com.au/practitioners#jay-anderson or phone 9481 5744 for an appointment.