In my early years as a teacher coach of Australian Football in secondary schools, I would have training after school at least once a week. In later years, this became untenable as boys began to work after school and many had to catch buses home. So I would have one formal training session a week during lunch hour. It would begin with a warm up. Then I would do some skill work with them involving grid work later in my career. After this we would practice a basic play e.g. centre bounce or kick out from fullback. We finished off with a short game. It might be backs against forwards on a half field or a keepings-off handball game Often the practice was based on the errors the team made in their last game.
Then, on the other days of the week, the boys were allowed to borrow footballs to have “Kick to Kick” on the oval. As often as possible, I would be on the oval giving boys advice about how to improve their kicking and marking skills.
On Wednesday, our sports day, we would meet at morning tea for me to check on attendance of players at school. I would discuss briefly our games and announce the teams.
One of the duties I had on each playing day was to umpire our school games particularly in the earlier years. This occurred because often the teacher responsible for the other team had not played our game or lacked the expertise to do it. This meant that I was at a disadvantage in a coaching sense because I had to make changes “on the run”. So, wherever possible I coached both competing teams in a general sense about what to do in our local competition. Umpiring the game did however allow me the chance to see close hand the game and skills errors my players made.
Most school game in local competition and in organised out of school hours competition are games of relatively short duration. So I always adopted the simple game plan. It was to move the ball long and quickly.
I always played my best players on the ball or in the centre i.e. where the ball is most of the time. This allowed them to bring others into the game and increased the success of the team.
In watching our games, I rarely concentrated on opposition players. I would concentrate on my own players to look for ways to improve their performance and enjoyment of the game. After all, that was my job as a teacher.
Finally, I always organised a staff versus students’ match with a difference. It was against a girls’ team. The teachers’ team had both male and female teachers. The girls’ team was joined by some of the senior footballers, dressed up in girls’ uniforms in the second half. I always played in the back line as I was usually the only teacher with football experience. The game attracted many students and staff as spectators.