Burning daylight: How training switch has reinvigorated the Eagles

A SWITCH to one daytime training session a week has helped fast-track the development of West Coast's redeveloping AFLW side.

Captain Emma Swanson – a firefighter away from football – told womens.afl the Wednesday session was key in allowing enough time for education.

Due to the part-time nature of AFLW, clubs train during the evenings to allow for external work and study commitments, although a few are starting to take tentative steps towards a daylight session after the average 94 per cent pay rise.

"The biggest example is just the training during the day. It's really hard to maintain a full-time or close to full-time job and be rocking up to training at 5 o'clock at night, and not leaving till 10, and doing that three or four times a week. It's really challenging," Swanson said.

"To be able to have our day training sessions – we had 100 per cent buy-in which was really awesome from our young group – it's just allowed us to be athletes. We're not rushed to get treatment, we're not rushed to have ice baths.

"We have blocks in there for education, we can have nutrition chats and conversations around the best recovery for your body and stuff like that. It's more the education piece and the time we've been able to put into particularly our Wednesday sessions."

West Coast players in action during a training session on July 2, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

West Coast has been the worst-performing of the four teams which joined the AFLW in 2020, and this off-season turned over 13 players (of 30), with Evie Gooch also sidelined for the upcoming season due to a wrist injury.

2020 expansion clubs wins and end-of-season percentages

 

2020 (six round season)

2021 (nine round season)

2022 (10 round season)

Total wins

Average

Gold Coast

2.5, 101.3%

0, 36.5%

3.5, 68.2%

5 and 2 draws

68.7%

Richmond

0, 35.7%

3, 84.6%

3, 81.3%

6

67.2%

St Kilda

2, 90.6%

3, 69.6%

2, 53.1%

7

71.1%

West Coast

1, 32.1%

2, 53.0%

1, 42.9%

4

42.7%

 

"At the end of the day, it was hard to say goodbye to some of the girls I've played with for a long time, they've been around for a long time," Swanson said.

"But I guess that's footy and it's sort of like a business, it's a transaction at the end of the day. The fresh faces around the group have been really exciting.

"It's a bit of a challenge when things aren't going to plan on the field, and would have loved to have won more games in the last three seasons.

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"At the same time, you do have to stay really realistic and focus on the small wins. Sometimes the small wins in the past didn't come in wins and losses, they came in other areas.

"As long as you're staying realistic and focusing on what you can control, around the club you just have to put a smile on your face and continue to work hard."

Emma Swanson leads the Eagles out onto the field ahead of round one, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

But every new season brings hope for improvement, and decorated draftee forward/midfielder Ella Roberts is already catching the eye at training.

"We obviously had Ella Roberts come in, she was the number one draft pick for us, and it's just super impressive from the start. Her body is ready to go at AFLW level, she's built like she's been playing for the last three or four years. She's been really exciting to watch," Swanson said.

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"We've also had a couple of the girls who have been around for a while been able to invest time into their fitness. Shanae Davison is the one who comes to mind, she's just turned her game around completely and her running capacity and ability. She's had a couple of injury-prone seasons, so I'm really excited to see how her body holds up."