Your Image as a Coach

Thursday, May 28, 2015

by Wayne Siekman Ė Dandenong Stingrays Senior Assistant & Vic Metro Youth Girls Head Coach

How many coaches have ever thought about how they look or are perceived by their players, coaching staff, board members, supporters, fans and the rest of the public?

Does it even bother you?

I believe this is one of the most important aspects of a coachís role thatís taken for granted and something we may neglect to think about.

The way we behave, the way we go about our business in and out of the rooms are all small but important factors in showing what you are about as a coach.

Our job as a coach is to improve our players, get results on the scoreboard, deliver the big wins, win a premiership, get promoted or avoid relegation. If we could take five minutes out of our week to look at ourselves, we may find an extra goal or an extra effort when required for the way we present ourselves to our players and community.

Iím not saying we all need to wear polos, slacks and black shoes, but you can create an image you are happy with, and more importantly, an image your club is happy for you to represent.

When wearing hats, donít wear any old hat that other people may start questioning - ĎWhy would he wear something like that?í Try and get a club hat, or a hat with little detail on it.

Coaches who have to look into the sun during a game and prefer to wear sunglasses, thatís fine, but, whatever you do ĎDONíT WEAR THEM WHEN ADDRESSING YOUR PLAYERSí Ė Why? Ė you need to be able to make eye contact with your players, you want them to be looking at you when being addressed, so the least you can do is look them in the eyes. When youíre asking for that special effort at three quarter time in a big game, you need to look them in the eye. You have more chance of them responding than if you have your sunglasses on and they canít see your eyes!

The way we act during a game, at local level when you donít have a coaches box, everyone loves to be near the bench, wanting to hear whatís being said, waiting for the coach to lose his cool, trying to get another form of entertainment from the game. Coaches who have coaches boxes, be mindful of the environment around you, people waiting to hear your outbursts, trying to hear whatís being said.
Everyone wants to be as close as they can to you, so they can make comments on how you perform.

At the breaks, especially at quarter time and three-quarter time, many people will surround your huddle to listen, which is a great thing of our game, but we must be focused on the job at hand. That is, getting our team right, giving them the appropriate instructions required to lift the team to the next level and finding a way to improve what weíve done in the previous quarter. The best advice is to not worry about who is around and who is listening. If you do, you are likely to harm your team and more importantly yourself. This can also result in saying something you regret!

Donít go banging the bench during the last quarter of a big game just because a decision didnít go your way. How do you think your players will react when you are doing this? Donít try to find excuses why youíre not performing the way youíd like and then start blaming umpiring decisions. You lose focus on your job as a coach and that filters through to your players and staff on the bench and then onto the ground.

We are employed to coach a football team. This means making the best decisions you can, and remaining as calm as you can (I know this can be hard at times), so that when the big moments occur, you are in the best environment to make a measured decision or action.

Control what you can control and your image as a coach, and as a person, will be far more respectable than if you are constantly worrying about the things you canít control, and being distracted from the real tasks of coaching.

We as coaches are a reflection of our players on and off the ground, so create an image that youíre happy with and this will result in others saying Ė ĎI have respect for that coach, the players listen, the coach keeps calm and makes good decisions when under pressureí. 

The purpose of this piece is to get you to do a little self-reflection and self-assessment as a coach. 

Wayne Siekman is the Dandenong Stingrays Senior Assistant & Vic Metro Youth Girls Head Coach.

This article was written as part of the requirements for the AFL High Performance (Level 3) coaching course

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