Why Not Start and Finish With a Game?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chelsea Caple AFL Victoria FDM Gippsland
Steve Teakel AFL Victoria Coaching and Umpiring Manager


The introduction of the AFL Junior Football Match Guide has highlighted the need to introduce young players to the game through modified rules regarding player numbers, ground size and regulations. This concept also promotes the value of using a games approach in your practice sessions – the benefits being more touches on the ball, more opportunities to make decisions and more actual play. One of the keys is that players will be more active and will begin to understand the importance of team mates, playing and working together. 

Which would you prefer?


Warm Up Games:

There are a range of games you can play with your players (whether they be juniors or seniors) to add variety to your practice sessions – so why not start with a game as part of the warm up or to practice skills taught in a previous session. Think back to games you played when you were young and how they can become ‘footyfied’.

A good example is Scarecrow Tiggy – set up an area using cones, have at least one ‘tagger’ and two to four ‘release’ players who handball the ball between the legs of the scarecrows (stand like a star with legs apart) to get them back into the game. Keep changing the ‘taggers’ and ‘releasers’. 

Another is Pegs – set up the space, have players wear pegs on their jumpers, two or three chasers to collect the pegs, once you lose all your pegs you become a chaser. These are warm up games – running (who needs laps?), dodging, evading, watching hips for tackling, tagging, releasing using handball skill, team play and plenty of fun. 

The AFL Junior Coaching Manual has a range of games which allow players to practice their football skills and game sense.

Skill Games:

Game skills are about applying individual and team skills in games. These games are not necessarily AFL games but games with a clear focus. Some benefits of these games include:

  • The modified version is as fun and exciting to play as football from which it was derived. Thus, players will remain motivated to participate.
  • It is challenging enough for the younger players, but still in a controlled environment.
  • It offers a great avenue for skill development and facilitates the natural growth and progression of your players.
  • It can offer an even playing field for players of all sizes, ages and skill level.

As the coach you can also become a game developer:

  • Have an aim or theme for each game. What are we trying to achieve?
  • Use small teams – for example 2 - 6 players to maximize the number of decisions and/or touches of the ball - repetition
  • Are there match scenarios that occur frequently in a game you can replicate?
  • Length – games need to be long enough to allow plenty of repetition to develop “experience” but need to consider ‘work rate’
  • What are the main rules? The size of the area? (can adjust during game)
  • Prepare variations for the game. What is the next progression? Make it easier or harder – change the rules
  • Develop questions to assist in the learning process 


Using these games to add to your coaching program will benefit your players as they can practice their football skills in a range of activities, learn the essence of team play and communication, and most of all have some fun. 

Have a go at developing your own games – time to be creative! 

Just to finish off - how about a game that has stood the test of time – Footy Baseball!

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