AFL National Coaching Conference

Friday, March 10, 2017

AFL 2017 National Coaching Conference

The 15th edition of the AFL National Coaching Conference, attended by 400 participants was enlivened with a live cross to Carlton for the first bounce of the inaugural AFLW season played between Carlton and Collingwood at Ikon Park. This inspirational interlude, leading into the Opening Keynote address, followed the formal opening of the conference by AFL Competition and Stakeholder Manager Michael Poulton during the opening function in the Members Dining Room at the MCG.

Essendon Senior Coach John Worsfold delivered the opening keynote address on the theme of “Tension is good”, outlining the value of “good tension”, defined as the difference between where we currently are and where we want to be, in the development and maintenance of high performing teams. It will indicate the level to which vision and values are defined, the degree of alignment whether there is progress towards being a high performing team.

The 2017 conference was conducted at the MCG from 3-5 February. Stan Alves OAM was again the conference MC. Stan and fellow AFL Coaching Ambassador, David Parkin OAM, played prominent roles throughout the conference as mentors and challengers, provoking great interaction between coaches and with presenters.


Other keynote speakers included:

Kevin Sheehan OAM & Luke Power (AFL Talent Program) – Developing the Next Rising Stars

Ange Postecoglou (Socceroos Coach) – Coaching the Socceroos 

Bo Hanson (Athlete Assessments) – The Millennial Challenge

Kate Hall (Deakin University & YSAS) – Making a Positive Contribution to Mental Health

Robert Harvey (Collingwood) – Working with Leaders

Cliff Mallett (University of Queensland) – Understanding Motivation to Enhance Coaching

David Rath (Hawthorn) – Skill: What it Isn’t, What it Might Be, & What Coaches Can Do About it.


Key themes for the conference underpinning the program were;

The importance of building relationships and knowing your players as individuals, and the impact with player welfare

Game-based coaching – ensuring your coaching & practice activities are relevant to the game.

Insights into the female football

Thirty-four elective breakout workshops were offered over five sessions of the conference on Saturday and Sunday, providing a wide range of technical, developmental, cultural and people-related topics relevant to the coaching role. 

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

Coaches attended from every state and territory and from all levels of the game. The rapid growth of female football, along with the implementation of the AFLW League, resulted in an increased number of female coaches and coaches of female players participating this year and examples from female football were used to illustrate key points in many presentations throughout the program.

General feedback from participants was very positive and indicated that there were “plentiful take away messages and practical ideas” for attending coaches.

The Conference is being formally evaluated by attendees as well as staff and presenters to assist in planning future editions. Consideration of dates, venue and format for the 2018 conference is currently under way.

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