Amid all the talk of player congestion, adding lines to the ground and whether players are allowed to "brace" for contact anymore, the best team in the land has continued to go about its business in the unassuming fashion that is the way of the world out Waverley way.

With nearly 900 points on the board and a measly 493 conceded from the first seven games, Hawthorn sits on top of the ladder and is No.1 in both attack and defence, albeit a status skewed by its drubbing of St Kilda last weekend. Even so, in their own distinct way, Alastair Clarkson and his Hawks are truly revolutionising the game, in the way it will be played in the future and how players will be recruited into the elite ranks of AFL football.

To give it a name, the Hawks play "yoga football". Their positional play is based on ultimate flexibility and it is a crucial plank of their overall game plan. Hawthorn players all play multiple positions and roles in any given match - in fact, in any given quarter. Watching the brown and gold machine throughout the pre-season and over the first couple of weeks of the home and away season has been intriguing, interesting and damn hard work just keeping up with them.

Starting at the beginning, it is rarely the same four-man combination that sets up for consecutive centre bounces. Apart from one of two ruckmen, there will be midfielders that come "inside" from either the wing (Isaac Smith, Jordan Lewis, Bradley Hill, Liam Shiels), a half-back flank (Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Shaun Burgoyne), or the forward line (Cyril Rioli, Luke Breust, Jarryd Roughead). This keeps the mix in constant flux, which in turn makes it extremely difficult for any opposition to scout, let alone opposition players to negate.

Jack Gunston has played as a forward, on the wing and even in a back pocket. Ryan Schoenmakers was welcomed back to the team last weekend, but started as a forward  (kicking four goals) before "retiring" to his customary backline post when Brian Lake departed. And on it goes. All Hawthorn players can and do play all over the ground, making the team both flexible and unpredictable - great exponents of "yoga football".

Clarkson has possibly taken this concept from other territory-based sports such as hockey, soccer and even basketball, where players have a "preferred" position, but will play in other places as the game, and their team personnel, at any given time demands. It helps maintain efficient running patterns and allows teams to successfully defend territory until they regain possession.  

The dual premiership coach has also evolved the 2010-11 Mick Malthouse tactic of "power football" using high rotations and the interchange, a method developed in concert with the now Carlton coach's Collingwood fitness chief David Buttifant. The Pies derived this tactic initially to "throw off" the taggers who were sent to Dane Swan or Scott Pendlebury, by starting one of them on the bench and rolling as many as 10 players through the interchange in rapid succession. Just as the tagger was starting to get a handle on his target, the player would head to the bench, yet instead of a customary three-to-four-minute spell, he'd be back on in two - and in a new position.  

Most teams have a level of flexibility about them, but none to the extreme of the Hawks. Some teams use their wingers and half-forwards in "fake" starting points, in a ploy to throw off the opposition and gain a small advantage, which may just get them a single goal. That goal may be the difference at the end of the day.

Teams will also use this tactic against younger opponents and coaches, who are sometimes not savvy to what is happening to them.

Executing Clarkson’s "yoga football" requires two things from players - they need to be super-equipped, both athletically and mentally.

Athletically they boast a mixture of power and running ability, so that even the lighter bodies can compete when the need arises for them to take on bigger bodies (i.e. Breust in the centre-square contest), or they need to be able to run well, even as a tall (i.e., Roughead as a ruck-rover or Gunston as a winger).

And they must be intelligent and coachable - that is, receptive and able to learn the structures and methods of how the coaching panel wants them to play, which changes and has multiple facets across each area of the ground. In the case of Gunston, for example, he will need to know his forward leading patterns, plus his F50 defensive actions, his wing role for both centre-square bounce and stoppages including boundary throw-ins, and lastly all the D50 tactics including the kick-in structures.

Of course, yoga is a discipline that brings strength to both body and mind.

The Opposition Analyst works in that role for an AFL club.