O Coach, My Leader

“The greater a man’s talents, the greater his power to lead astray… Murder kills only the individual – and, after all, what is an individual?” With a sweeping gesture he indicated the rows of microscopes, the test-tubes, the incubators. “We can make a new one with the greatest ease – as many as we like. Unorthodoxy threatens more than the life of a mere individual; it strikes as Society itself.”   – Brave New World, Aldous Huxley.

What is the job of a coach?

What is the position description?

Can we see one?

What are the key performance indicators of a great coach?

Are they correct?

Are they appropriate?

Are you sure?

How do you know?

How do you know if you’ve got a good coach?

How you do choose between two applicants?

Or three?

Is Matthew Knights a good coach?


Is James Hird a better coach?


Is it possible to answer these questions objectively?

Are coaches only as good as the playing list they coach?

What value does a coach add?

Can good sides coach themselves?

Is Chris Scott a good coach?

Better than Mark Thompson?

How do you know?

Should a coach specialize as a tactician?

Should a coach specialize as a communicator?

Is Ross Lyon a good coach?


Does personality affect the influence of a coach?

Do dominant characters on the playing list affect the influence of a coach?

Is Mickey Arthur a good coach?

Would he have been a good coach had Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey stayed on?

Is Darren Lehmann a good coach?

Is he a charismatic leader of influential and impressionistic young men?

Are they the same question?

Do sporting teams collectively mature?

Does the same team need different coaching from year to year as team experience changes?

Or do the same central messages remain unchanged?

Is Leigh Matthews a good coach?


Is Mark Neeld a good coach?


Is coaching adults inherently the same as coaching children?

Is coaching basically about leadership?

What is the role of leadership?

Is it fair to hold a leader accountable for the performance of a group?

Can we name any good leaders in public life?

Is Adam Goodes a good leader?


Would Adam Goodes make a good coach of the Sydney Swans?


Would Adam Goodes make a good coach of the Melbourne Football Club?


What is the role of the coach?

What do we expect?

Why do we expect it?

Are we right to expect it?

What should we expect?

Do we understand the patience that such a job demands?

Do we really know what the job demands?

Do we know what is demanded of the coaches?

What is the job of a coach?

What is the position description?

Can we see one?

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He shares the care of two daughters and a dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.


  1. Excellent David!
    Plenty of thought-provoking questions here.
    And, would Mark Thompson have been the only person able to mould that group of players at Geelong into that flag-winning unit?
    The randomness of success is so understated.

  2. By the way, ‘Brave New World’ is one of my all-time favourites.

  3. Jim-Jam Tinklebottom says

    Too bloody right! Coaches are over rated and over paid these days. Axe the lot of them. The players are the ones who know the game. They live it. Breath it. They are it!

    If it wasn’t for coaches we wouldn’t have any of this bloody ‘modern game’ nonsense. No press, no small forward defence, no flood, no bloody sliding rule!

  4. David Wilson says

    Thanks Smokie, Jim-Jam,
    Yeah I like that; the randomness of success.
    In these economic rationalist times we are brought up to think that “if you want it badly enough, you’ll get it (success/ happiness/ a stable job/ utopia)”.
    Train, son. Success will necessarily follow.
    Roll the dice?
    We don’t seem to like that, as it shows us how out of control we really are. Heavens above.

  5. The Wrap says

    Thanks for that one Dave. It got me googling ‘coaching definition’, which took me to http://www.karenwises.co.uk Well worth a visit. I lifted this line from the site.

    “Coaching is about enabling individuals to make conscious decisions and empowering them to become leaders in their own lives”

    And for mine, good teams make good coaches. They coach themselves on & off the field – see Geelong: The Greatest Team Of All.

    That having been said, get the wrong coach and the wheels fall off – see Melbourne where hearts didn’t pump true for The Red & The Blue.

    Are coaches overpaid? Bad ones are.

    Can I name any good leaders in public life – The Dalai Lama.

    Is Darren Lehmann a good coach – you better believe it.

    Is Matty Knights a good coach – he’s got The Geelong Falcons on top of the ladder, with a cup in the cabinet.

    Is James Hird a better coach – he’s got the Bombers all over the front page for all the wrong reasons, and may have coached them to a lost season, and more.

    But I’m afraid I can’t help you with who’s got the pub over in Adelaide now.

    I’ve got one for you Dave; do you happen to know if Brave New World is on the Year 12 reading list?

    And if not, why not?

  6. Paradox for fans: coaches want risk-free approach to maximise the chance of being reappointed, and quantifiable metrics so they can demonstrate their capability; fans want player craziness and creativity three standard deviations form the mean and for chaos to reign.

    More likely to see the latter in local footy.

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