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The aim of this study was to compare the anthropometry, upper-body strength, and lower-body power characteristics in elite junior, sub-elite senior, and elite senior Australian Football (AF) players. Nineteen experienced elite senior ( > =4 years Australian Football League [AFL] experience), 27 inexperienced elite senior ( < 4 years AFL experience), 22 sub-elite senior, and 21 elite junior AF players were assessed for anthropometric profile (fat-free soft tissue mass [FFSTM], fat mass, and bone mineral content) with dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, upper-body strength (bench press and bench pull), and lower-body power (countermovement jump [CMJ] and squat jump with 20 kg). A 1-way analysis of variance assessed differences between the playing levels in these measures, whereas relationships between anthropometry and performance were assessed with Pearson's correlation. The elite senior and sub-elite senior players were older and heavier than the elite junior players (p < = 0.05). Both elite playing groups had greater total FFSTM than both the sub-elite and junior elite players; however, there were only appendicular FFSTM differences between the junior elite and elite senior players (p < 0.001). The elite senior playing groups were stronger and had greater CMJ performance than the lower level players. Both whole-body and regional FFSTM were correlated with bench press (r = 0.43–0.64), bench pull (r = 0.58–0.73), and jump squat performance measures (r = 0.33–0.55). Australian Football players' FFSTM are different between playing levels, which are likely because of training and partly explain the observed differences in performance between playing levels highlighting the importance of optimizing FFSTM in young players.

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Journal Article

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