As the player pathway takes shape coaching a women’s league team can be a tough yet thoroughly rewarding experience. Players can vary in age from 17 through to over 30 years of age! This means your team comes to you with a:
- Huge diversity of maturation levels physically, socially, and emotionally
- Variety of football backgrounds from having followed the pathway from Auskick through to the Women’s league, being the most talented player such as an All Australian representative, being a first entry AFL player at the age of 28, to being a talented player in another sport but being a first time AFL player.
- Large range of goals they want to achieve from their AFL involvement from being a social player, gaining a bit of fitness, improving their skills to aspiring to be an All Australian player
- Massive range of other commitments such as relationships, family, work, study, other sports etc
Implications For Coaches
Coaching a typical women’s league team is like coaching the basic skills of football to 14 year old boys but you’re dealing with mature bodies and minds. You will find the women pick up the skills quickly and are very willing to attempt to put into practice what you teach them. You should begin with basic skill development before embarking on more complex Games Sense drills. Kicking and the physicality skills in particular need to be part of every training session.
- Communication is the key: knowing your players’ background and football experience and understanding what they want from their AFL experience are paramount in balancing the players’ expectations and goals with those of the coach
- Be well prepared so you can cater for the skill diversity within the group. Challenge the more skilled players whilst providing good basic knowledge and skill development to the new players. Having a buddy system for some drills (pairing a capable player with a beginner or an older with a younger) also helps mix the friendship groups. Getting the more skilled players to perform a drill with their non-preferred side can challenge those players or get them to demonstrate a skill drill.
- Make it fun. Vary your training drills and warm ups as well as how you convey your messages. Provide visuals on whiteboards of what plays you would like players to follow or use videos of correct technique
- Don’t expect football to be the number one pursuit of your players. Be flexible and try and plan training around the player’s other interests
- Provide opportunities for socializing during training as well as special club events
- Use vision of game and skill execution analysis frequently. Use vision of correct execution rather than poor execution so player can visualize what they should be doing.
- Explain WHY they are practising something – place in a football context.
- Educate players about the importance of core stability and strength. Not only will this help them withstand the physical combat but also assist injury prevention
- Use quality staff such as runners, strength and conditioning coach and others to provide further expert advice to both you and the players