2015 AFL Coaching Conference Wrap

Friday, February 13, 2015

The 13th edition of the AFL National Coaching Conference, with more than 400 participants was conducted at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne from 30 January to 1 February 2015.

AFL Coaching Ambassador Stan Alves OAM was the conference MC and AFL General Manager - People, Customer & Community, Dorothy Hisgrove formally welcomed participants and opened the conference. 

Hawthorn triple premiership coach Alastair Clarkson delivered the opening keynote address, emphasising the importance of fun, relationships and small-sided games in successful coaching at any level.

Other keynote speakers included:
  • Leigh Russell (Inspired Heads & ‘The Recruit’) - Emotional Intelligence in Coaching
  • Brendon Bolton (Hawthorn Assistant Coach) - Creating a Learning Environment
  • Louise Burke OAM (AIS Head of Nutrition) – Supplements and Performance
  • Mark Yettica-Paulson (the Yettica Group) – Intercultural Awareness,
  • David Parkin OAM (AFL Coaching Ambassador) – What I know at 70 I wish I knew at 30.

The centre-piece of the conference was a “Game Sense” coaching session conducted on Etihad arena on Saturday with coaches and players from the Dandenong Stingrays. The session was facilitated by one of Australia’s leading practitioners in this area, Shane Pill (Flinders University and West Adelaide FC), and Stingrays’ assistant coach Matt Jones, who is also currently engaged in the AFL High Performance Coaching Course, conducted the on-field practice session. 

As well as being able to watch the session live from the stands in front of the Victory Room, conference attendees were also able to keep an eye on it through the Etihad video scoreboards and follow the coaching communication, including questions to the players and their answers, through the stadium’s sound system. This provided real insights into the art of facilitated coaching and learning through coaches asking questions of their players rather than directing them. This is the key to effective game sense coaching.

Another interesting element of the session was the concept of players taking tactical timeouts to have their own group discussions about how to increase their success in the specific training game they were engaged in at the time. 

The underpinning themes of the conference were: inclusiveness, coaching with integrity (doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason) and the value of small-sided games in effective learning.

Thirty-two different electives sessions were offered over five sessions of the conference on Saturday and Sunday providing a wide range of technical, development, cultural and people-related topics relevant to the coaching role.

2015 Program

Saturday night’s conference dinner in the Medallion Carvery proved to be a memorable social and networking experience, enlivened by a punchy address by NAB AFL Auskick Ambassador Shane Crawford, including some reflections about the impact of some of his coaches during his career. 

The conference was very well supported by presenters from AFL clubs, talent pathway programs, universities, the AIS and community football in providing quality presenters. Thanks to the AFL clubs and the AFL Coaches Association who supported the participation of their member coaches as presenters in the conference.

Coaches attended from every state and territory, from our overseas affiliates in Canada, USA and Vanuatu, and from all levels of the game. An increased number of female coaches and coaches of female players participated this year and examples from female football were used as illustration of key points in many presentations throughout the program.

General feedback from participants was very positive and indicated that there were “truck- loads of useful take away messages” for attendees.

The Conference is being formally evaluated by attendees as well as staff and presenters to assist in planning future editions. The 2016 conference is slated for Perth in conjunction with the West Australian Football Commission with dates and venue to be confirmed.

Jake reid, 19-02-15 21:09:
Looking at doing a couching course.
Having some information on it will be great.

Thank you,
Jake Reid

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