Teaching Remedial Skills

Thursday, July 24, 2014

By Stan Alves
AFL Coaching Ambassador

I recommend the following process for remedial coaching:

  • Carefully watch the player to identify for yourself what the problem is (video ideal)
  • Break down the basic mechanics of what is wrong - eg - eyes, hands, feet, posture etc.
  • Work out what is required to overcome the problem. Refer to notes, books, etc.
  • Take the player aside. Gain his confidence. Don't lecture. Let him talk - gain his acceptance by showing the benefit.
  • Now you show the correct technique:
    • The demonstration
    • Use you, him, video, others
    • Art of visualisation should be used 
  • Practice. Step by step tasks are set which are to be continually reviewed - don't expect to fix immediately. Use of daily diary.
Feedback and Repetition:

Throughout, there is a need for strong, frequent, positive feedback. Never offer belittling criticism. Once the play has digested the correct method, it must be repetitiously practised until it is mastered. Changes hardly ever occur easily or quickly. Laborious repetition is the key. Once again, plenty of positive feedback is the best way to keep a player at it.

These are two broad techniques which coaches should use to remedy problems in the performance of a skill:

  1. Rebuild the skill - if the performance in no way resembled the desired model.
  2. Renovate the skill - when the performance only partially deviates from the desired model.
Remediation: Fixing Specific Problems


Ball Guidance Problem:

Using two hands to slam the ball into the kicking foot. Using both hands to guide the ball onto the kicking foot.


Using one-handed technique the ball is held in the palm of one hand underneath its bottom end. Other hand is placed behind back.

  1. Walk 2-3 steps; drop ball on a mark on the ground
  2. Repeat bringing kicking foot through
  3. Repeat with one finger off opposite hand on the side of the ball
  4. Hold ball in two hands, walk through kick, and guide ball down with one hand.

Follow through of kicking leg problem:

Hooking the kicking leg across the body:


Provide some types of restraint which encourage a straight kick through - eg:

  • Alongside goal post
  • Between two benches
  • Between two lines of markers with the gaps made progressively narrower

Goal Kicking Problem:



  1. Focus on target between goals
  2. Begin a short distance from goals (about 5m) and increase as kicking improves
  3. At all times, player's optimal power should be used (power which player kicks comfortably).


Chest Marking Problem:

Incorrect posture:

  • Chest sticking out
  • Arms not together


  1. Player mimes a chest mark without the ball (stress correct posture)
  2. One player walks/runs with the ball, other player receives as in a chest mark
  3. Simple thrown deliveries using various sized balls
  4. Vary speed and spin of deliveries; include low down to the side chest mark.

Overhead Marking Problem:

Incorrect positioning of fingers and thumbs. Poor judgement (a players ability to get hand or body where the ball is going to land is largely acquired in the earliest years at the motor coordination stage).


  • Mime mark (stress fingers spread in correct position of thumbs behind ball).
  • Player grabs ball from coaches hand held above players head.
  • Catch self-thrown deliveries, throw ball from hand to hand
  • Increase frequency of catches and introduce opposition
  • Watch the seam

NB - correct sized ball is used for appropriate age group.



Throwing the ball in the air. Dropping platform hand before hitting the ball.


Both hands can be used to minimise the pain of hitting the ball. Use the platform hand to help propel the ball. Ensure that the ball does not leave the platform hand before it is hit.

  1. Stabilise platform hand on table, fence or partners back
  2. "Fist to hand" player grabs punching fist with platform hand after punching the ball



Ball not returning.


  1. Show player what part of the ball must hit the ground.
  2. Player holds hand over top end of ball and bounces.
  3. Bounce in stationary position - begin don on one knee to minimise distance. Progress to walking.
  4. Introduce time trials and opposition.



Selling the dummy.


  1. Practise dummy baulk - player shapes to handball, then side steps around opponent who is drawn into the smother. Emphasise quick movement of feet and being aware if what is happening around him.
  2. Dodge and chase games incorporate most skills needed for evasion and give children an enjoyable way of developing the sense of changing their balance, etc.
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