RMIT expert comment on AFL Grand Final

Collingwood has the bigger mental challenge. The Pies’ players have less finals experience – only three players from the 2010 premiership team remain – and their loss to West Coast three weeks ago in the first week of the finals will remain fresh in their minds.

“The key for Pies coach Nathan Buckley and his team is to identify the pressures for individual players during the week and on game day and put plans in place to handle them. Known as the inoculation effect, when someone knows what’s going on and how it could disrupt them they’re better able to handle it.

“West Coast will be boosted by their recent wins over Collingwood (second qualifying final and round 17) and the fact many of their players have played on the last Saturday in September before, even though Hawthorn ultimately grabbed the Grand Final glory in 2015.

“This edge will lose its significance as the game goes on.”

Dr Merv Jackson is a senior lecturer in RMIT’s School of Psychology. He is also a registered sports psychologist with more than 40 years’ experience.

*Merv does not have a mobile number but is responsive on email*

“If it’s a close game, Collingwood may have the home ground advantage and not just because the Grand Final’s being played at the MCG. The black and white army could have a big impact on Collingwood’s potential to win a record-equalling 16th premiership.

“We used to think home ground advantage related to the home team being in their routine or not having to travel.

“But recent research from the US has found that the home game advantage only applies in close games.

“Researchers found that umpires had to make close calls and would be influenced by the response from the crowd.

“The researchers argued this wasn’t intentional, but was a response to our innate human desire to belong to a group of people.

“If 60,000 people are screaming at you, ‘It was in!’ it’s human nature to go with the group. The challenge is that the group, in this case, have a bias: they want their team to win!

“The take away for footy fans generally is to show up to games and be a loud as possible. That’s never more important than on Grand Final day.”

Dr Michelle Noon is a psychologist and criminologist started her career with Victoria Police and in Senior Advisory with KPMG. She lectures in forensic interviewing at RMIT and researches the community’s fear of crime, and how this fear can be reduced to improve community well-being.


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