SUMMARY: With the previous season barely over, many football clubs across Australia start the search for their next coach, crossing their fingers and hoping that the next appointment will bring them that elusive premiership.

This article outlines 4 tips to improving your chances of securing that new coaching job.

Background

There is that rare exception that a first time coach may bring the ultimate reward, but for many, it may be the start of a multi year plan that will build a club to the point where it will be good enough to win a flag.

For the majority of clubs outside the various state leagues and of course the AFL, club success can depend on less factors than at the professional level.

Money is the obvious factor, and if a club is financial, then solid recruiting can be the single biggest factor in winning a premiership. “Buying” better players than your opponents will more often than not guarantee success at country or amateur level. The coach can play his part by possessing a solid knowledge of the game and being a decent manager.

On the other hand, there are football clubs who are not that financial, and will put more thought and emphasis into employing their coach. Clubs that possess a good junior competition can take full advantage of that potential, by employing a coach who has good man management skills, has solid game knowledge and the ability to share that knowledge with his players.

If the club is patient, strong development will bring long term success.

For those coaches who have had limited success, football can be a harsh environment. There are many coaches who have the pre-requisites for success, but for one reason or another, have failed to achieve the ultimate success. Be it sub standard playing lists, lack of resources, or other reasons outside their control, some great coaches can fall by the wayside, by way of football clubs being reluctant to give then another opportunity.

At the end of the day, if success is only defined by premierships, then there have been thousands of unsuccessful coaches in football!

Leagues such as the WAFL and the AFL provide outstanding personal development opportunities for their coaches, allowing them to obtain and share knowledge, with the overall aim of lifting the standard of the competition. Unfortunately, it is the clubs who have the final say on who coaches their respective teams, and when success is limited, then it is the coach who usually loses his job.

With that done, the various leagues lose many good coaches who have obtained knowledge and have a lot to offer. Unfortunately clubs, sometimes run by people who have never played the game, make rash decisions to find a quick fix.

Where Do I Start?

So the question beckons, “How do I get that next coaching position?”

The most important skill to possess is that of being able to sell yourself, and your knowledge, and do it in a way that is different to everyone else.

Following is a few tips that may help you get that next job.

# 1 – Prepare a CV

The first and most basic step in getting a job is to prepare a CV outlining your previous positions and experiences as a coach. It is a personal choice whether or not to include the results of each year that you coach.

# 2 – Document Your Football Philosophies

The next thing I would recommend is to prepare a document outlining your football philosophies. These are the points that define you as a person and define the way you coach. Your football philosophy is a collection of thoughts and ideals, made up from your years of experience.

Good coaches rely on their philosophies in good times and in bad, and they never deviate from them. These philosophies will afford you some guidance throughout the season, makes you appear more professional, and allows the selection panel to understand what makes you tick.

# 3 – Research The Club

The next phase in your application should be research. It pays to know the club you are speaking to. Learn its history, who the board members are, and the strength or weaknesses of the previous years playing list. Understanding this last factor allows you the opportunity to discuss and find ways to improve it.

I also find it important to speak with various people who may assist you in your coaching role. Having access to skilled assistant coaches and fitness personal will certainly enhance your chances. With that said, I also believe in discussing existing club personnel at your interview, as there may already be some outstanding, loyal people at the club who are more than willing, and capable of helping out. Having someone who is familiar to the players will help you settle in.

Many clubs, and certainly those at an elite or semi professional level, will ask applicants to address certain questions or criteria during the interview phase. Do your homework here. Keep it simple, but make sure you fully understand what it is that the club is trying to obtain.

# 4 – Prepare a Sales Presentation

Sell yourself to the club during your interview. Look professional, dress appropriately and come prepared. Having said that, and from previous experience, it is important to be relaxed. That is, don’t be too intense. Many coaches can confuse professionalism with intensity. Keep it light hearted but to the point.

There are certainly different ways to present your information to the interview panel.

I find using a Powerpoint presentation on your computer to be highly effective. If the club has multi-media facilities such as a projector and big screen, it will only enhance your presentation.

In your Powerpoint:

  • Start with some personal information, coaching history, your philosophy, any educational qualifications and finally address any questions as outlined by the club.
  • As you go through your Powerpoint, seek verbal feedback from the interview panel to make sure they understand your message and to address any issues they may have.
  • Sell what you will bring to the club, should you be appointed. Be realistic, be honest and be ready to discuss any options that you put forward.
#5 – Prepare Questions For The Interview Panel

Finally, prepare some questions to ask the interview panel about the club, player list or other items of interest to you. This allows for some informal banter that may just help you get the job you desire.

It also makes you look more thorough and will demonstrate your keenness to get the job.

Conclusion

These strategies aren’t new. They are used by other coaches in AFL, WAFL and other professional leagues around Australia. If you use them, they will not only better prepare you for the coaching interview, but increase your chances of landing that next coaching job as well.

Title photo by Port Adelaide via: freeforcommercialuse.org.

Posted by David Johnson

David “Johnno” Johnson is our chief football researcher and writer. With over 20 years of coaching experience in all grades of football David was also a prominent footballer himself, having played at Teal Cup level and was even recruited by the Essendon Football Club. The pinnacle of David's coaching experience saw him as the assistant coach of the East Fremantle Shark Football Club in the WAFL for a number of years.

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