Kane Dewhurst, Author at Vida Footy - Page 3 of 3
Vince 0417 581 117 Office 9457 7248 [email protected]
Developing Kicking Efficiency

Developing Kicking Efficiency


Kicking is becoming more and more scrutinised as players transition from junior to teenage age groups. We are finding that players are spending less time in developing this particular area at the key skill development ages of 7 to 13.  Here at Vida Footy, we are experiencing players that are prepared to invest in their development through video analysis are progressing their skill set at a greater rate, as visual feedback provides the best form of clarity for the majority of juniors.

As coaches, we have to spend time developing fundamental skill sets for young players to ensure that good habits are learned, formed and built upon throughout the junior years. It is also vital that the correct technique is developed, and that constant repetition is used to ensure the skill becomes an automatic muscular movement. These movements then need to be translated from a closed skill environment into an open skill with a variety of constraints added.

The importance of weekly sessions

The benefit of weekly kicking sessions for juniors is that they are able to develop their skill in an educational environment, with constant repetition with consistency. Having a mentor analyse, improve and perfect a kicking technique goes a long way to a junior having greater kicking efficiency later on down the track as they continually develop in size. These sessions also build confidence in the player and helps them to have a positive junior experience, no matter the level of player.

For information about Vida Footy’s weekly Monday night skill sessions in term 3, please click on the link: https://vidafooty.com.au/shop/term-3-skill-development/ 

Creating “Thinking Players” for Junior Footy

Creating “Thinking Players” for Junior Footy

There are many ways to coach.  Different techniques, visions, goals, values and communication methods.  The end results of whatever coaching methods we use is usually measured in the success of the pre determined goal at the start of the season.  In senior footy this is usually measured in a Premiership Flag, for juniors it should be about development.

So how do we try and develop junior players so they can move into senior footy, whatever level that may be, so that they can help bring success to their club.  Well according to an article written in the In Daily, an independent newspaper in Adelaide, it’s about creating players who think more.


Creating players that think more drastically improves a players ability to impact a game of footy.  We need to create thinking players throughout junior footy by mixing games based decision making activities throughout training sessions.  The following articles explains this theory.

“The development of ‘thinking’ players will create better team performances and ultimately make Australian Rules football a much safer and enjoyable game for juniors, according to sport experts at Flinders University.

Game-based coaching and game-play practice sessions give junior and senior players alike the chance to be more tactical, to play with purpose and respond more adeptly to the dynamics – and hazards – of the game, says Flinders University coaching analyst Associate Professor Shane Pill, who advises AFL and other leagues around the country.

“Compared to traditional training, which focuses on repetitive drill-based practice, the game sense approach gives players the skills to make better moment-to-moment decisions in a complex and dynamic sport,” says Associate Professor Pill, co-editor of Advances in Australian Football, a new in-depth look at the Great Australian Game.

“Drill based ‘off the line’ training can develop inattention ‘blindness’ that limits players’ perception decision-making and ability to play according to the realities of the game,” says Associate Professor Pill from the Sport, Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) Research Centre at Flinders University.

Now acknowledged as the preferred approach of the AFL coach development department, he says Hawthorn’s award-winning senior coach Alastair Clarkson is a great supporter of the game-sense approach.

“The view of the three-time premiership coach is that young footballers right down to under-10s are being subjected to far too many training drills and not enough football. As a result, young footballers being drafted into AFL clubs not having adequate decision-making skills.

“But the game at the elite level is not the only concern.

“Teenagers should be learning how to play the game by playing it – and learning to enjoy it,” Associate Professor Pill says.

These tactics, along with advances in player selection, player movement, sport medicine and nutrition, are adding to the evolution of the great Australian game, says SHAPE Research Centre director Professor Murray Drummond, co-editor ofAdvances in Australian Football.

“Over time, the game of elite Australian football evolved from a community-based sport to what is now – entirely professional amidst a billion-dollar industry that has enormous social and cultural influence,” Professor Drummond says.

“This book is unique in that it delves into the social, scientific and coaching aspects of Australian football, from elite player level to community ‘grassroots’ engagement and junior player, Indigenous and women player development.

“It explores, challenges and highlights the significance of Australian football in Australian society, as well as the enormous changes that have occurred within the sport since the early 1900s when clubs were starting to emerge.”

The role of elite football in defining masculinity and football club culture is examined in another chapter by fellow Flinders University Sport, Health and Physical Activity lecturer Dr Deb Agnew.

“My chapter, ‘Becoming a star: life as an elite Australian footballer, identity construction and withdrawal from the spotlight,’ is based on research with 20 retired footballers,” Dr Agnew says.

“There is strong evidence to support the influence of Australian football in the development of masculine identity.


Educate your club

Creating Positive Sports Environments

Creating Positive Sports Environments

Does positive youth development have a place in football coaching?

From coaching, parenting and players there is a growing interest in bringing learnings from positive psychology to the sports field. Before we talk about how to facilitate positive sports environments though, we need to address the issue of why we should do this in the first place. Should coaches even play a role in facilitating positive youth development? Should they build character in their young athletes as well as technical skills? After all, coaches are primarily (and in some cases solely) trained to impart knowledge that leads to game competence (e.g. learning new technical and tactical skills, game awareness and fitness), not psychological and social skills.

A 2011 study from University of Wollongong on the role of coaches in facilitating positive youth development offers insights into why coaches need to move beyond purely developing game competence in young athletes. The study provides an understanding of the challenges coaches face and the complexities of their role, such as:

  • Helping players deal with frustration on the field
  • Teaching players how to lose well
  • Teaching players how to play in the right spirit, e.g. fair and not dirty
  • Dealing with interpersonal issues on the team
  • Teaching players to respect teammates, the opposition and officials and the importance of mutual respect
  • Helping players with core life skills such as goal-setting, communication skills, leadership skills and interpersonal skills
  • Ensuring that players enjoy their training and matches
  • Building confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, self-belief and self-respect in young players
  • Creating a culture that cultivates positive team morale, team harmony and team cohesion
  • Teaching optimism, resilience, perseverance and forgiveness

In some instances, these issues were deemed by coaches as more important than dealing with technical aspects. They also relate strongly to key areas of research for positive psychology such as: character strengths, positive relationships, resilience, positive teams, positive emotions, engagement and flow. Character strengths include concepts such as fairness, social intelligence, perseverance, optimism, forgiveness, self-regulation, leadership, teamwork, bravery, creativity and love of learning. These can be used in unique ways to address the challenges coaches face. Therefore, positive psychology can provide a rich ground for coaches wishing to apply a solution-focused approach to complex individual and team issues. So, whether coach education provides training or not, some coaches do see themselves as playing a role in facilitating positive youth development. They want to build character in their young athletes as well as game competence skills.

If we accept there is a need for coaches to manage the psychological and social issues that arise in their teams, it raises the question as to whether this is too onerous a burden to place on them. Coaches, after all, only have limited time with their players and often coach education does not equip coaches with the skills required to navigate these issues. Adolescence is a complicated and sometimes vulnerable stage in a player’s development. Would it not best to leave such issues for parents and positive education programs within schools to deal with?

The current direction that positive psychology is taking points towards a whole systems approach. In other words, the education of character and wellbeing in young people should be addressed by whole communities, parents, schools and anyone involved in the lives of young people. Coaches are, therefore, part of the picture. They are, in a sense, role models for young players and should demonstrate the behaviours they desire in their young athletes through their own behaviours. They should also cultivate these behaviours in their players. Programs such as TOVO training do incorporate character building. The key is clearly defining what the desired behaviours are and the ways to develop them. How should this be approached though?

In an ideal world, the identification, development and nurturance of desired behaviours would occur through formalised training programs for coaches. Where coach education falls short of equipping coaches with these skills, initiatives such as the Player Development Project can provide a rich ground of ideas and strategies for coaches to implement. Evidence-based positive psychology literature, especially around positive education can also be useful. A cautionary note should be made though that the science in this field is emerging and not well established.

Coaches need to become conscientious consumers of the science. They should beware of pop psychology literature that is not supported by scientific evidence. The compliment sandwich would be an example of such practice, whereby feedback is given in positive-negative-positive fashion. A 2013 study in the Advances in Health Sciences Education journal bemoaned the lack of evidence to support this technique. The study indicated that students think feedback sandwiches positively impact future performances when in reality this can be quite the opposite. In a learning environment these sandwiches may even be harmful to students’ ability to critically self-assess their performance. It is prudent to approach any method that espouses ratios or generic formulas with caution. Building human strengths and potential is a person-specific and context-specific endeavour, not a one-size-fits-all venture. In essence this means that coaches need a nuanced understanding of what makes individual players tick.

Beyond written resources, coaches can seek advice from qualified sports psychologists (although admittedly this is not a feasible option for many outside of elite settings). Practitioners who holds a qualification in sports psychology and are registered as sports psychologists should be approached (this is not the same as a regular psychologist from a mental health background working with athletes). Some sports psychologists will run short courses for coaches that draw on positive psychology principles. When applying positive psychology to coaching settings, it is important for coaches to remember that they are not qualified to diagnose or treat mental health conditions in their young players; boundaries should be established.

With all of these points in mind, a coach can proceed in selecting areas to explore. The following list is a summary of some potentially fruitful areas to begin. It is acknowledged that many of these have their origins outside of positive psychology, but that the field has contributed to a scientific understanding of their effectiveness.

Where to Start:

  • Start to build a language around strengths. Take the free VIA character strengths survey athttps://www.viacharacter.org/survey/account/register (a youth survey is also available). Reflect on how these strengths might help encourage positive behaviours on the sporting field and build performance. For example, forgiveness can be used when a team mate makes mistakes; perseverance can be promoted to remove a player’s focus from failure and mistakes.
  • Explore the role of positive emotions. Positive emotions have been shown to broaden peripheral vision. Try building fun and enjoyment into training sessions. Observe whether this leads to any difference in the player’s decision making.
  • Get curious about the role mindfulness in sport. Mindfulness plays a role in self-regulation, performance and attention. Phil Jackson’s book, Eleven Rings, is a great resource for anyone wishing to see how mindfulness can be used in a high performance setting. The book also promotes teamwork over individual brilliance. Mindfulness is also attributed to be part of the recent success of the Seattle Seahawks. See more here.
  • Learn to write player development goals. Ensure that players always have clear player development goals. These goals should ideally be ones they are intrinsically motivated to achieve, rather than driven by extrinsic rewards such as money, fame, team selection. Clear feedback around these goals should also be given regularly. Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness contains information on how to structure goals that we are likely to stick to and are more likely to increase our happiness.
  • Explore the concept of flow with players. Help them identify when they are in ‘the zone’? When are their skills and challenge in balance? If the challenge is too great, players may experience anxiety, if it is not enough, they may experience apathy or boredom. When their skill and challenge is just right players may experience flow. Their action and awareness may merge, they’ll lose their sense of self, time may either speed up or slow down. This can lead to peak experiences.

No matter where a coach chooses to start, knowing why they are introducing any strategies aimed at addressing psychological or social issues is an important first step. Ensuring that chosen approaches are evidence-based as well as having clear outcomes and boundaries established is also key, especially in the absence of formalised training. Exploring positive psychology can be energising and lead to personal growth, but like an exotic flower its beauty should be regarded with healthy blend of curiosity and caution.

Kicking Drop Punts – Technique

Kicking Drop Punts – Technique

Kicking more and more is becoming a talking point within junior development and why so many juniors are struggling to kick an effective drop punt towards a specific area with control.

Kicking a drop punt is very much a taught skill and the earlier you can start to develop the correct technique the better especially with the assistance of video analysis giving junior’s consistent visual feed back is very important tool for their development. The benefit of visual feed back is that we can freeze a particular area and really highlight the area that’s needs to be addressed or complimented. We can also use the footage to compare against current AFL players and maybe even model your technique of one of the AFL greats.

Areas that juniors consistently struggle with kicking a drop punt.

1, Ball Grip
2, Ball Drop
3, Follow through (Point the toe)
4, Getting the ball to spin backwards

One of the great ex AFL players and now current coach of Collingwood Nathan Buckley share’s his views on kicking a drop punt which reinforces what we are educating at vidafooty.



Our very own Anthony Rocca will also explain to us his views on kicking the drop punt.




If you child wants to improve their kicking, click here to view our upcoming events.

If you want to organise a private kicking lesson, call Vince on 0417 581 117

New AFL Players and Their Journey

New AFL Players and Their Journey

The pathway from Juniors to AFL can be a tough and torturous one.  Most players start playing at about 8-10 years old and enter the AFL as an 18 year old.  There so many years of development in those junior seasons.  Players need to learn what position they play best which is very difficult as people grow.  They also need to know and understand where to position themselves on the ground, kick and handball off both sides, get stronger, faster, fitter, etc etc etc.  The list of things to master is endless, that’s why so few players make it to the elite level.

Once a player makes it to the elite level you would assume most of these factors have been mastered. Wrong.  There is a whole new journey about to take place for new draftees.  Emma Quayle, a football writer from The Age, recently published a great article on the journey of AFL draftees.  Her piece demonstrates the way new AFL players go about their development from juniors to being an elite AFL player.



Quayle outlines the major physical and technical things that need to be worked on over a four year period to ensure a player has the best chance to become an AFL player.  The main objective in their development in the first four years are;

Year 1: Learn how to become a professional athlete then develop those skills.

Year 2: All off field fundamentals in place as well as work into doing a full pre season.

Year 3: Working into full physical AFL training and playing and start to plan life.

Year 4: Start to become a director and leader around the club.


To read the full article click here.