Coaching a Young Club from the Bench

I am a unique guy and I like unique stuffs.

To be honest, I wish I could write an article about beauty of old footy games, great era of the Saints or footy legends. But I am a new footy fan, so sadly do not have enough knowledge of these stuffs. Instead, I have been unleashing my thoughts that were stayed at the bottom of my mind and had never been dug up.

This time, my unleashed thought is about coaching from the bench during footy matches. It would be too early to be a serious footy item, but I would love to keep some freshness in what I’m writing about.

Because of his unique personality, I liked former Carlton coach Brett Ratten coaching from the boundary line. Also my heart said “it is great” when I saw Paul Roos coaching from the bench in Round 23, 2014 between the Kangaroos and the Demons.

Once again I watched a Footy Classified clip discussing Ratten’s coaching style in 2012. A panel member – Garry Lyon – says that Ratten shows competitive efforts towards young players by encouraging them directly and celebrating Blues’ wins together. I agree with Lyon.

Then Grant Thomas made points of view from his coaching experience. He understands some coaches preferences coaching from the boundary line to interact with very young players – like what Gold Coast Suns coach Guy McKenna had done for a while. Also Thommo understand Ratten’s concerns on how he could more get involved in young players from up in the coaching box.

What I had thought before watching the Footy Classified clip again is exactly same as what Thomas says.

Also I have seen James Hird and Mick Malthouse coming down to the boundary line when their club’s had led comfortably but situations got tight. It is good to see, because players need to get advice from the coach and to be encouraged. Their actions make sense indeed.

What about the vision of the footy field from the bench and the coaching box?

As I have never got access to the bench or coaching box or even been to a stadium for a footy match, I can only guess for the issue.

Looking at the field from up in the coaching box would be good to survey whole situations, but it must be hard to identify who a particular player (whom the coach is focusing on checking) is. Having seen Ross Lyon using a pair of binoculars would say what I think.

The Footy Classified clip shows vision of the ground from the bench at Subiaco (the issue was discussed after Round 12 against West Coast). As Garry Lyon says, it would be hard to see the other side of the footy field.

Then I guess that coaches being both in the coaching box and the bench help each other to coach their club.

I agree with Garry’s point of view where to coach (up in the coaching box or at the boundary line) is up to a coach.

But I think coaching from the bench for a team of young players is good and effective. Boys who need more experience will be motivated.

St Kilda is a club of young players and many blokes were born in the nineties. We have the wonderful skipper, Nick Riewoldt, and recently young players have been on a four-day boot camp in Canberra as well as high performance camp in Queenstown, New Zealand where most players have been to.

Although we are developing young players and unleashing their talents as well as training them to form a young leader group, encouraging young blokes is important for great on field performances.

I suggest our senior coach Alan Richardson should coach from the bench while the club is rebuilding. Richo is a great man and coach trying to gain a winning culture. Coaching from the boundary line will strengthen the positive culture and boost a new era, I reckon.

Alternatively he can come down to the boundary line when needed. But this method seems sensitive for players. For this option, both coaches and players would need to discuss.

I wish all the very best to the mighty Saints in 2015. Go the Saints!!

About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Very well discussed topic, Yoshi. I’m amazed with the increased prevalence of AFL coaches directing traffic from the boundary line in English Premier League fashion. If I was a senior coach, I’d much prefer to be up in the coaches box where I could eat and drink (non-alcoholic stuff, of course) to my heart’s content. Who can forget “Bomber” Thompson casually chomping on a sandwich during Geelong’s demolition of West Coast at Subiaco Oval late last decade?

  2. G’day Pete,

    Your comment is hiralious! I have watched a Youtube video Bomber Thompson eating sandwiches at the Subiaco Oval. He is laid back and unique. And I like his pressers that are very opposite to Malthouse ones.

    But eating foods and drinking can be done when the club is very competitive like Geelong.

    I guess Paul Roos influenced coaching in the boundary line. He started doing when he was in charge of Sydney Swans in 2005, I learned.



  3. Yes, there aren’t too many coaches like “Bomber” Thompson, Yoshi – his post-match press conferences are very colourful. I’m going back a long time now, but I remember in the WAFL when the then eight coaches’ comments were published as one line each in the newspaper. After a loss, many coaches simply said: “No comment.”. The modern-day coaching cliché is “We’re just taking it one game at a time.” Of course, I’ve drifted off topic, Yoshi, but I think coaches are best served having a high-up view rather than being on the boundary line.

  4. Hi Pete again,

    Thanks for your comment and I am the one who made you to talk about press conference.

    As I don’t know about old days in footy, so I have no idea how the sport played or coaches behaved when the league’s most served coach Mick Malthouse started his job at Footscray in 1984. But sadly I can sense that coaches need to have public relation skills because media coverage is big and development of the internet.

    I agree with you that AFL coaches are required skills more than being at the boundary line.

    I was about to finish the respond, but now remembered what Brenton Sanderson (former Adelaide Crows coach) said on SEN. He thinks AFL coaches need to spend more time with players comparing with past times.



  5. Peter Fuller says

    Your mention of “no comment” responses, reminds me of John (Kanga) Kennedy the revered coach of Hawthorn and briefly North Melbourne, and later chairman of the AFL Commission.
    I can’t recall the detail, but there was some dispute arising out of what Kanga claimed was his being misquoted by the published comments in the newspaper (we’re talking about an era long before direct to air televised post match press conferences). Thereafter Kennedy each week was published saying “no comment”. On one celebrated occasion, when there was a particular controversy – an umpiring decision ? an act of alleged violence by one of his players ? – Kanga expanded his response to “absolutely no comment”.
    David Parkin coined the phrase the fifth quarter for his press conferences, which I suspect that he found more exacting even than the preceding four – a big claim given DP’s legendary intensity on match days.

  6. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Hi Yoshi,
    I’m just starting to get acquainted with your writing and I love your enthusiasm for the nuances of the game and the question you ask here is a valid one.
    I think the head coach should be on the bench, talking to his players as they come off the ground. Nothing beats face to face communication. However, the coach would have to trust his assistants sitting up in the box as their vision of how plays are unfolding would be be broader. Have you watched the 1966 GF? (Both coaches on the bench and the extremes of emotion at the end are remarkable when Bob Rose embraces Allan Jeans).
    Do you follow the Professional Wrestling in Japan Yoshi?
    I used to be a huge wrestling fan and one of my favourite managers/coaches was Mr Fuji. Also loved watching Jushin Liger, The Great Muta and The Jumping Bomb Angels wrestle in the 1980/90s. Cheers.

  7. Hi Peter and Phillip,

    Thank you for your comments to you guys.

    Peter – There seem to have been having speculations between coaches and media. I reckon Kanga’s ‘no comment’ was the message he was against how he had been treated by media. Coaches responsibilities have changed from these old days. Even now post-match press conferences are not only air on TV but also uploaded on their clubs’ and AFL’s websites. Then coaches can be clubs’ faces (in other words, I would use Public Relation Representatives).

    Phillip – Thanks for your compliment on my writing and question. I am glad that you are with me about coaching from the bench. Sadly I have not got any opportunity to watch the 1966 Grand Final replay. As it was the game where St Kilda won the only one premiership, I must watch! I am afraid to say that I do not follow Japanese professional wresting. These games would be unique for Australians, I guess. How do you get these games?



  8. Phillip Dimitriadis says
  9. Hi Phil,

    Thanks for making links to the 1966 Grand Final and DVD purchasing.



Leave a Comment