WEST COAST HAWKS
Thankyou to Wirrulla as Grand final host
As a coach of a junior (Under 8’s to Under 17) football team you will eventually find yourself in a position where you are coaching against a team where you know you will win by a large margin.
When considering these questions try putting yourself in the shoes of the opposition coach as well.
You are coaching a group of young players but in an indirect way you are also coaching the opposition players.
If they continually get beaten by large margins then the chance of most of these kids returning to play the game is very low. The opposition coach of these teams can change the approach to help retain these players and so they enjoy their footy, even if only for one week.
Junior footy shouldn’t see margins that blow out past 100 points. A coach on the team that is winning can alter team structure and positions to enable players who may have less ability to play in more prominent positions.
Keep in mind the season the opposition team are having and where their heads must be at. Another massive thumping probably just seals them to not return, whereas a positive performance (which you still win) can probably keep them for the next season.
Give your best player (who probably plays midfield ALL the time) a role in the back pocket and explain key areas you want him to focus on.
As your better players move up in levels (interleague/TAC Cup) are you equipping them with tools for other positions on the ground?
At TAC Cup level most players are midfielders because they have starred in those spots and played midfield for nearly every game of their footy career.
Whilst this helps you win - does it help the player develop?
Junior football doesn’t see this enough. Especially in games that may be close. Junior football should see coaches working together on occasions to match the better players against each other in a VARIETY of positions over the ground.
Many times all this will do is ultimately contribute to numerous players from the opposition walking away from the great game of Australian Football. A game which can provide lifelong friendships and develop life skills.
So by playing to win by as much as possible are you ‘developing’?
Paul Groves is Director of Development at Mordialloc Braeside Junior Football Club and an Assistant Coach at the Calder Cannons Football Club.
This article was written in 2014 as part of the requirements for the AFL High Performance (Level 3) coaching course