Skill and physiological demands of open and closed training drills in Australian football

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Farrow, Damian, Pyne, David and Gabbett, T (2008) Skill and physiological demands of open and closed training drills in Australian football. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 3 (4). pp. 489-499. ISSN 1747-9541


This study compared the skill and physiological demands of open- and closed-skill drills commonly used in Australian football. Junior male players (n=30, age 16.7 ± 0.5 y, height 1.88 ± 0.07 m, mass 79.7 ± 6.5 kg; mean ± SD) completed two different training sessions involving a series of three open and closed training drills. Movement demands were quantified with global positioning system (GPS) technology, while physiological responses were assessed with heart rate, blood lactate concentration and self-reported ratings of physical exertion. Skill demands were quantified by video analysis and self-reported ratings of perceived cognitive complexity. Two of the three open drills were substantially more demanding in terms of distance (metres) covered (p < .05), rating of perceived physical exertion (p < .05), and relative intensity (p < .05). All open drills had significantly more moderate velocity efforts (p < .05) than their closed counterparts. There were no differences in post-session lactate concentration between the drills or formats, but heart rate was higher in the open format for the third drill. Analysis of skill demands revealed that while the number of ball disposals were equivalent in two of the three open and closed drill formats, there was a significantly larger volume of game-like decisions required of the participants in all open drills. Higher cognitive complexity scores were reported in the open drills (p < .05). In conclusion, the open drills were generally more physically and cognitively demanding than the closed drills commonly used in Australian Football. Coaches and conditioning staff should prescribe open drills to elicit higher physical and cognitive training loads in a game-specific context.

Additional Information

Online ISSN: 2048-397X

Item type Article
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Sport and Exercise Science
Keywords ResPubID22316. Australian football, game-based conditioning, global positioning system, GPS, movement patterns, skill drills, training drills, Australia
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