It looks more like something out of a Lady GaGa concert, but the Carlton Football Club's Floatation Tank is aimed at doing quite the opposite of putting players in the mood to dance.
The Floatation Tank is a small pod-like cabin, which is filled with warm salty water. The high salt concentration enables anyone inside the pod to float.
It might sound like an odd way to spend an afternoon, but the Carlton Football Club's Rehabilitation Coach, Jason Patten, says it's all aimed at relaxation.
“Relaxation is very important for recovery," Patten says. “The quicker we get the players to relax, the quicker their bodies to return back to their base-line state, which is technically better for their recovery. It also does wonders to help with sleep."
Although the buoyancy is said to take some getting used to, it’s not uncommon for players to fall asleep during a session, which can last between 30 and 60 minutes.
“The darker and the quieter the environment, the better," Patten says. "Music is also piped into the chamber to assist in the unwinding process. Players can choose their own music, and adjust the sound while they're inside."
The Floatation Tank was only installed at Visy Park five weeks ago. So far it has been utilised by roughly half of Carlton's playing group, while about a dozen players are using the tank on a weekly basis.
“Lachie Henderson is a strong advocate for it, along with Robbie Warnock and all the rucks. There are a number of players who enjoy using it."
Players say they're already seeing the benefits of using he tank to help them relax. Those who have spent time in the tank before a skills session have seen improvement in their skill acquisition.
As with many high-pressure jobs, finding the time to relax can be difficult. But Jason Patten has some ideas on multi-tasking, to enable players to relax, while getting some work done.
“There is also the option to put a TV in the tank. So, it's technically possible that players could review their performance from the week before, or look at the match-up for the coming week, all from the confines of this salty relaxation chamber."