James Hird, recently appointed as Senior Coach of Essendon Football Club.

Coach Recruitment & Assessment

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

At this time of year clubs are faced with the prospect of assessing their current coach and for some going through the recruitment process to appoint a new coach for next season. 

This scenario poses a couple of questions:

  • What are the selection criteria clubs use when deciding who to appoint?
  • What are the KPI's that clubs use when assessing a current coach?

Stride Sports Management (Stride) was engaged by the AFL Research Board in May 2009 to conduct a Research Project into Senior Coach Recruitment & Assessment. 

The aim of the Research was to provide the AFL Clubs with a number of practical tools they could use in the recruitment and assessment of a Senior Coach. 

Whilst the findings from this research are aimed at the elite level and the recruitment and assessment of a Senior Coach for an AFL Club they can be modified to suit coach recruitment and assessment for community level football.

The research identified four deliverables:

  • Selection Criteria;
  • Recruitment Process;
  • Job Description; and
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Deliverable 1 - Selection Criteria

Ultimately, the research identified 7 key selection criteria groups that clubs assess during a recruitment process:

The seven selection criteria groups are as follows: 

Selection Criteria


1. Leadership & Culture


2. Personal Qualities 


3. Management 


4. Technical Skills 


5. Coaching History 


6. Communication 


7. Commercial Focus  




Deliverable 2 - Recruitment Process

A three stage process has been recommended for the recruitment of an AFL Senior Coach.  The Club’s Board will appoint a Sub-Committee, chaired by the CEO, to manage the recruitment process of going to market to secure a new Senior Coach.  The Sub-Committee is comprised of:

  • Chief Executive (Chairman)
  • General Manager of Football Operations (GMF);
  • Director with recent Football experience;
  • Director with broad experience, including recruitment of people; and an
  • Independent Facilitator.

Once the Sub-Committee has been established and the Facilitator appointed, its first task is to assess the state of the Club and determine the necessary selection criteria and relevant weightings.  The final selection criteria and weightings are communicated to the Board and a target list of suitable candidates is identified. 

Stage 1

After preliminary due diligence and debate amongst the Sub-Committee, a short-list of eight interested candidates will be interviewed by the Facilitator and GMF and this represents Stage 1. 

Stage 2

Stage 2 involves the selection of the best four candidates.  Each candidate will then undergo a detailed psychological assessment and also make a presentation to the Sub-Committee.  The Sub-Committee then assesses each candidate based on the selection criteria and uses their balanced scorecard rankings, psychological test results and gut feel to debate the merits of each candidate before deciding on the two most suitable candidates. 

Stage 3

The final two candidates will make a presentation to the Board as Stage 3.  Thereafter, the Sub-Committee will make a formal recommendation regarding the most suitable candidate for the role of Senior Coach.  The Board then ratifies the Sub-Committee’s decision. 

Deliverable 3 - Job Description

A generic job description has been recommended for an AFL Senior Coach.  Stride identified five Key Result Areas (KRAs) to capture the essence of a Senior Coach’s role.  Clubs may choose to adapt the job description to suit their own requirements and circumstances.

  1. Develop Club’s Football & Coaching Strategy
  2. Overall Coaching of Players & Coaching Staff - implement Game Plan effectively
  3. Relationship Management
  4. Develop a Culture of Success with Shared Values
  5. Promote the Club and its Brand

The job description serves as a useful document for discussing the Senior Coach’s annual review and should include reference to Professional Education and any Performance Review recommendations. 

Deliverable 4 - Key Performance Indicators

As a component of the job description, the following seven KPIs have been identified:



1. On-Field Performance


2. Improvement in Players/Team


3. Leadership & Management


4. Game Plan


5. Relationship Management


6. Culture


7. Commercial & Brand Development



Further information

Download the recommended Job Description for a Senior Coach at an AFL Club

Download the full report on Coaching Recruitment and Assessment

Roxanne Brock, 26-02-80 16:03:
A great tool that can be used for all levels of footy (we are a womens AFL team currently looking for a coach for the 2011 season) Allows the team to promote thier goals and allows the potential coach to know what is expected of them. Clear communication is critical in this stage.
Tom Chapman, 22-04-90 22:07:
Thank you very much for this timely report. As President of a local senior football club,and in only it's inaugural year, I found it an extremely good tool to use in order to develope our overall approach to coach sel3ection and assessment.

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