Date of Submission



With the increasing professionalisation of the Australian Football League (AFL), greater demands are being placed upon AFL players with respect to their technical, tactical, and physiological training, in addition to increased requirements to promote their club’s brand via community appearances. Modern AFL players have an additional challenge as their careers will be typically limited to, at best, a decade or slightly more at the elite level. This means that they are also encouraged to develop an alternative career for when their playing days are over. Thus, given these demands, there is substantial challenge for the modern footballer in achieving a sense of balance between work and non-work life whilst also preparing for their next career. Although there is a strong ethical argument to support professional athletes’ off-field activities and development away from the field, there is also a growing argument from some coaches and athletes that participating in these activities actually carries some benefit for the way athletes perform in their sport. Such an argument is consistent with contemporary human resource and management literature where in demanding professions, the support of employee work-life balance and holistic development has been shown to be associated with employee engagement and productivity. Within the AFL however there has been mixed views concerning the value of supporting player off-field activities and preparations for life after football. This is understandable given that there is often an underlying assumption in elite sport that to be successful you must ‘out work’ those you are competing with. The present thesis sought to investigate the potential value that participation in off-field activities associated with their lives away from football (i.e., their social, recreational, and career development activities) may have with respect to AFL players’ experience of engagement in their roles as footballers.


School of Exercise Science

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


391 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Health Sciences


Research Location