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AFLW: Bulldogs getting on the front foot

Bulldogs AFLW coach Paul Groves - AFLW,Western Bulldogs
Bulldogs AFLW coach Paul Groves

THE WESTERN Bulldogs' AFL Women's team has made improving basic foot skills a primary focus of pre-season training.

The Bulldogs employed a kicking coach to help players sharpen fundamental skills leading into the second season of the NAB AFLW competition.

After an extensive review of the team's program following a disappointing sixth-place finish in the inaugural season, coach Paul Groves and his staff concluded the energies they put into pre-season training had been misdirected.

Former Vic Metro under-18s girls' coach Andrew Shakespeare recently started as the team's development and academy coach. His specific brief is to bring players up to speed on their skill execution.

"We've made a change this year to the way we focused our training last pre-season," Groves told AFL.com.au.

"Andrew's job is to increase the fundamental skills of the girls and that's been a real point of emphasis this pre-season. The majority of our training sessions are made up of basic skills [training].

Last season, the Bulldogs ranked third for disposal efficiency (58.5 per cent), behind Melbourne and Carlton.

However, their inaccuracy in front of goal proved to be extremely costly.

Excluding non-scores, the Bulldogs had the second-most shots at goal (73) but converted at a rate of just 42 per cent in booting 31 goals and 42 behinds.

Fremantle (39 per cent) was the only team ranked lower than the Bulldogs in terms of accuracy. Carlton was the top ranked side (66 per cent), followed by the Brisbane Lions (57 per cent) and premier Adelaide (54 per cent).

Jayden Shea, who works with the AFL team's football department, has been added as a specialist goalkicking coach.

"Our inaccuracy last year gave the opposition chances to stay in games," Groves said.

"We won 15 of 28 quarters (fourth-best in the AFLW), so we did a few things right. But there are a few things we've been tinkering with."