Tackle UV with good sun protection

Australian Rules football is predominantly a winter sport, however players often spend extended periods of time outdoors training and playing matches. Even at very low levels of UV, players are at risk of skin damage and skin cancer as UV exposure adds up over time.

AFL legend Jarryd Roughead is a big advocate for sun protection after having a melanoma removed in 2015, only for it to return and spread to his lungs less than a year later. Professional and recreational players alike need to ensure adequate sun protection on the field all year round.

Five tips for how to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide without compromising your game

1. Cover up exposed skin: SLIP on clothing that covers as much skin as possible, such as a loose, long-sleeved top and footy jumper with a higher neckline. Look for fabrics that are rated UPF50. Whenever practical, put the footy jumper over the top of a light long-sleeved top to protect your shoulders and arms. If weather is warm, opt for a t-shirt rather than singlet top to protect your neck, shoulders and arms when training.

2. Apply sunscreen correctly and frequently: SLOP on SPF50+ broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to any exposed skin at least 20 minutes before the toss of the coin. Sunscreen won’t provide 100% protection but used in conjunction with other sun protection methods it will greatly reduce your risk of skin damage.

  • Consider a dry touch or active formula that won’t be greasy and impact your grip on the ball. 
  • Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every two hours and more regularly if you’re sweating so put a tube in your bag for later. Hydration breaks and half-time provide the perfect opportunities to reapply.
  • Correct application of sunscreen is essential. 85% of Aussies don’t use enough sunscreen, putting themselves at risk. Check out our sunscreen calculator.

3. Protect your face, neck and ears: SLAP on a wide-brim hat when you are off the field to protect your face, neck and ears from the constant UV. During training, wear a legionnaire hat for maximum protection. As a last resort, wear a cap. It will protect most of your face but leave your neck and ears exposed so be vigilant with sunscreen application.

4. Avoid peak UV times of day: Try to schedule training and games earlier in the morning or later in the day when the sun’s UV isn’t as intense. Download the free SunSmart app to stay on top of UV levels and sun protection times. SEEK shady spots to take breaks and hydrate whenever you can.

5. Protect your eyes: SLIDE on sunglasses to protect your eyes from reflected UV off the field and surrounding buildings. Bring sunglasses to protect the eyes and cut the glare when off the ground. For best protection, look for wrap-around sunglasses which meet the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1067).