During my junior Australian Football coaching career, I coached my son’s under eight team. After each game I would write an assessment of the game that would become the basis of our next training run and the pre-game team talk. I would note the items to be addressed plus those that showed improvement. Here is what I wrote for each match.
Game 1 versus the Magpies No. 1 team:
All these items needed improvement: rucking; shepherding; ball work on the ground; learning to chase; learning playing in front; kicking off the ground and contesting the football.
Game 2 versus the Magpies No. 2 team:
Game 1 issues were still there especially crowding and marking their man.
Game 3 versus the Pumas:
There was no shepherding and crowding occurred again. They were too slow to play on. Poor goal kicking means they need to learn to look for a target.
Gam 4 versus the Panthers:
A little shepherding was beginning. The players didn’t chase enough to get the football. Again the play was still too crowded.
Game 5 versus the Vikings:
They lacked confidence against last year’s premiers. They were still failing to meet the ball and they need to concentrate on playing their position. There was some kick chasing.
Still they had two good quarters with some good tackling and bumping.
Game 6 versus the Reds:
There was too much bouncing. Ruck work needs more practice.
Shepherding and talking and playing on were improving.
Game 7 versus the Vikings:
Picking up the football and running to meet the football need practice. Holding onto the football when someone wants to grab it off you needs practice. Learning to play on needs more encouragement and practice.
Game 8 versus the Devils:
There was too much “one-upmanship” against a weaker team with players often being out of position. Players were not always kicking towards the goals.
Game 9 versus the Roosters:
Being the man on the mark needs discussing. Players need to be more aggressive at the football with more bumping.
Game 10 versus the Panthers:
Again the play was too crowded with players still fighting each other for the football.
There was some good tackling
Game 12 versus the Magpies No. 1 team:
Tackling became poor again while the players were still fighting each other for the football.
However their kicking was improving as well as playing in front.
Game 13 versus the Pumas:
How to marking your man needs work. The players are still waiting for the football to come instead of attacking it. Shepherding was again an issue.
Playing in front continues to get better.
Below are some observations I made regarding the progress of the team overall during the season and beyond.
- Playing against better teams often saw a regression to poor skills and playing habits mainly through lack of confidence.
- There are always several new players in your team each year to get up to par.
- When the team is playing a team they know they can beat, you will get ball chasers and goal hungry players. They get overconfident as they did against Roosters where players were running and bouncing too much and getting into trouble.
- It seems from what is written above that no real progress was being made. But as the year goes on your expectations rise and you expect more success.
- In this year, our team was mid-field in terms of skills and wins. In the under ten competition, they made the preliminary final while the next year they won the premiership.
- Remember success doesn’t come quickly. It is important to teach the boys the skills and how to play the game correctly. Success will come both for the players and the team. Help the boys to enjoy the game first and come to love it.
- It is important to note here that these boys played football before the advent of modified football, “Auskick” and the interchange rule.
- One last point: don’t forget that there will be some slow developers. Some of the best AFL players never played representative football in their younger days. Other players will just love playing and love the club. These are often the players who become the club officials and workers in the future.
The publication of the diary of the games problems and progress was designed to show new coaches that feel they appear to be succeeding with their players to understand that success come often in small movements forward and some backwards. Keeping the diary allows you, at season’s end, to see you have really made progress with your team.