Age Specific Coaching for kids and teens playing AFL
The key to successful coaching is pitching the content exactly where it needs to be pitched, so that everyone in your playing group is catered for. You want to be able to challenge players that need to be challenged and peel back the layers to cater for those that need more time to decode the content delivered.
As a coach, you need to be aware of how your playing group learns best, so that you can deliver the key messages appropriately and pitch it accordingly (e.g. visually, auditory, reading/writing and kinaesthetically – VARK). It must be noted that how you learn best, might not necessarily be the same way as your players, so you need to be able to adapt.
Groundwork Coaching’s philosophy is to create a unified and consistent approach right through your football program, so that what is happening at the top end is drip fed down to the lower end, creating a scaffolded approach. The reason for this is that it creates consistency, reducing anxiety and boredom for both coaches and players. Furthermore, it enables coaches to use a common language that creates familiarity.
I am sure that you have seen or been involved in situations when a coaching position has been filled at the very last minute, with only a few weeks to the season beginning. A common trend that occurs all too often is that the coach is then given no guidance as to the content they should be teaching at that particular age group. Naturally what happens is the coach tends to fall back on the methodologies that applied to them when they were a player and proceeds teaching their playing group the same way. The problem with this is that the modern game has evolved and many of these methods are out-dated. In addition, if every coach within your football program was coaching their way, then inconsistencies would be occurring, leading to mix messages being sent to the players throughout their football journey, causing them angst.
That is why as a football program all of your coaches and co-ordinators should sit down and map out at the start of the year, what it is that you want your football club to look like from the top down to the bottom.
Groundwork Coaching has provided multiple examples of team principles (Chapter 10: Volume 2 Modelling Stage p157, Volume 3 Establishment Stage p175 and Volume 4 Perfecting Stage p142) that clubs could use, debate or produce themselves, with the overall aim of producing a scaffolded approach that will lead to unity and consistency. It is suggested that you have between 1-2 principles at Underlying Stage (Under 10), 3-5 principles at Modelling Stage (Under 12-14), 6-8 principles at Establishment Stage (Under 16-17) and 9-10 principles (Under 18-Seniors). With this approach, you are not teaching 5-6 new principles each year. You are building on from prior knowledge and are basically teaching 1-2 new ones. This is much more manageable for everyone, creating a common language!