Prevention methods in the spotlight as ACL toll rises

ACL INJURY prevention methods have again come into the spotlight following suspected long-term injuries to St Kilda's Tarni White and Collingwood's Ash Brazill.

If the bleak scenarios are confirmed for Brazill and White, that will take the AFL Women's ACL injury count to 11 players across the course of the pre-season and the 2020 NAB AFL Women's competition.

This could be White's second ACL injury, after suffering one previously in U18's football.

It's tough with a short pre-season. You can't quite get the long-term build that you'd like to get into players

Peta Searle

The news is expected to be not as bad for St Kilda teammate Kate McCarthy, who will undergo an ultrasound on her knee this week.

A call for greater injury-prevention education for players coming through the junior ranks has been answered, but those learnings may not materialise into tangible results for another half a decade, according to current Fremantle coach and former Western Australia state U18's coach Trent Cooper. 

"We get their (state under-18's representative sides') strength and conditioning coaches to see what we're doing and they're taking it back to work with those younger players," Cooper said.

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Collingwood's Ash Brazill is taken from the field after suffering a knee injury

"We won't know for a few years if it's going to make a difference, but hopefully that earlier start with the ACL prevention will help five or six years down the track."

St Kilda coach Peta Searle believes resources should be increased in the elite junior development pathways to lower the risk of ACL injuries, while longer pre-seasons should also help.

"I do think with a number of our young girls coming in and playing large roles in our game straight away, potentially we can look at some really good strength and conditioning in the NAB League," Searle said.

"It's tough with a short pre-season.

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Maddy Guerin suffers a knee injury after dropping to the ground without any contact

"You can't quite get the long-term build that you'd like to get into players."

Fremantle midfielder Hayley Miller works as a physiotherapist and knows the high rate of ACL injury occurrences in female athletes all too well.

Miller believes clubs are doing all they can, but non-contact injuries will always be prevalent in women's sports due to biological factors.

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Ashton Hill appears to awkwardly twist her knee while attempting to lay a tackle

"We have a massive emphasis on ACL prevention," Miller said.

"We have a massive section of our training and gameday prep that is set aside for that.

"We've had a few this season and some last season, so it seems that no matter what you do, there's always that risk."