How to Prepare to Become a Successful Coach in Australian Football

So you want to be or have been asked to be a junior coach in Australian football. Here are some suggestions on how best to prepare for and continue your development as a coach.

Obviously, you should have played the game on some level. You don’t need to be a talented or above-average player. Less talented players are often excellent coaches because they understand what they had to do to be successful.

Here are the ideas that I think you should consider.

First, find a mentor. It should be someone who has probably been your coach in the past or a respected figure in your club. It could be a parent involved with your team who has trained or played at a high level. You can start as an assistant coach and the team coach becomes your mentor.

Second, as soon as you are designated to coach a team at school or at a club, enroll in the accredited Level 1 Australian Football course with your local league. Once you have trained for about a year and are ready to advance your trainer credential, enroll in a level 2 course. Level 3 courses are also available for those who wish to train at a higher level.

Third, create your own library of training books. When I started training, there were very few books available on how to train our game. They mainly concentrated on vocational training. Today there are many more who analyze how the game is played. The first real book of its kind came out in 1978. It was called “The Coach” and detailed how Ron Barassi coached the North Melbourne team during 1977 to the glory of Prime Minister in the Victorian Football League.

Then watch and listen to other coaches. Listen to the coaches talk about the game on television, radio, and other media. Escape to the ¼ and ¾ hour meetings at your local club to hear the coach’s instructions. Sit orderly on the bench to observe and listen to the coach’s instructions to the runner.

Fifth, watch TV shows that discuss games. This is, when it comes to my coaching career, a relatively new option. Early in my coaching career, the only television show that was available to me was the ABC show “The Winners” on Sunday night. Once direct TV broadcasts began, this helped the development of all coaches, especially in a minor soccer state like Queensland. In today’s world, a dedicated coach would subscribe to Fox Footy in order to watch not just every game every week, but every show that runs after every game and throughout the week, analyzing every aspect of every game.

Then pass on the new ideas you’ve learned to your team. When you hear a new idea, write it down and try it out with your team as soon as possible. Don’t throw it away if it doesn’t work right away. You may need to choose the right time to present it.

Seventh, complete a basic first aid and strap training, as you may need to become a backup to your club’s coach.

Learn to referee even if it’s just for your team’s practice games. Should

to. Buy a rule book.

B. Make sure you read how each rule should be interpreted.

vs. Take at least a level one field referee course.

D. Referee practice games with their team as the starting point;

me. Observe experienced referees to gain experience on how the rules are applied.

F. Discuss the new rules / interpretations with the players at the beginning of the season’s training.

gram. Watch the practice games to see how these new rules are being applied to coach your team.

Lastly, create your own coaching file. Must include:

• Copies of your team’s addresses, notes from game breaks, etc.

• Team selections and notes on the success and losses of the game;

• Notes on the abilities and failures of your players;

• Player traits, playing positions;

• Training tips;

• Tactics to use;

• Notes on motives;

• A library of books on soccer;

• Notes on opposition teams; and

• Video of games that show some tactic or skill at work.

You should constantly review your coaching record, especially at the beginning of the season and before any final in which your team plays, to look for ideas to improve your training and the development of your team.


It is important to remember that your coaching education does not have an end point. The rules and the way the game is played are constantly changing. Therefore, you should continue to think about the game and discuss ideas with other club coaches and your coach mentor.

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