On becoming a co-coach

Last year I became a footy coach for the very first time, in fact – the co-coach, to be precise, of the 8A (Blue) team at Marcellin College. I was a bit unnerved when I found out that somehow Cam and I were the coaches of the ‘A’ team. We were both rank amateurs and were a bit worried that somehow, we’d be massive disappointments and cruel the guys’ future footy careers.


Being allocated the team certainly wasn’t by design but merely part of the ebb and flow of our mysterious universe. An Excel spreadsheet was being filled out, Cam and my names were nearby and before you could say, ‘You’re it’, we were the coaches. I did ask if there’d been some mistake or if they wanted to rethink my appointment, just to show that I was humble and had a team-first approach, but was reassured that the only qualifications needed were enthusiasm and everything would fall into place.


I really hoped this would be the case but didn’t want to look like I was completely gullible, so put some time into preparing for something Cam and I would absolutely need to nail – getting the messaging right on the whiteboard and delivering some kind of ‘rev up’. In a previous life, Cam had been an actor and I was a Richmond fan with some knowledge of footy speeches, so desperate to start with something within the realms of our control, we set to work.


I rang my cousin, Jordo, who was the coach of an Ivanhoe Grammar old collegians team. Jordo’s advice was inspired and I filled the whiteboard in my office with his blue-ribbon advice as I spoke to him on the phone. One of my bosses, Nick, walked past and looked quizzically at what I was doing. I explained the method behind my madness to him when I got off the phone and it sounded so good, he decided he’d use Jordo’s advice with his team the very next morning. Jordo’s influence was growing, as was my confidence. Maybe this would all work out after all.


The key themes for the game were simple. What were we doing WITH the ball and what were we doing WITHOUT the ball, complete with some specific goals to take the themes to the next level – sticking a certain amount of tackles and ensuring we used plenty of voice and DEMANDED the footy.


Cam also  had the great idea of using some fighter pilot jargon – ‘Let’s kick the tyres and light the fires’ and his delivery of it to me had me convinced. I was in. I’d let Cam explain to the guys what it meant while I worried about the whiteboard messaging and practised holding it up with conviction, another key move in the coaching repertoire I’d need to master if I was to build trust with the group and even myself…




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  1. Mark Duffett says

    Looking forward to the next instalment!

  2. YeahTigers2020 says

    Next piece will focus on mastering the magnets, Mark!

  3. An enjoyable read. Thanks Jill.

  4. YeahTigers2020 says

    Thanks, Smokie. It was a pretty steep learning curve so there’s plenty of material. Jill

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