I started thinking about my life post-football early on in my career.
In my second year in the AFL system, I had a knee reconstruction and so I learnt pretty quickly how fast a career in football can end.
Straight away my life post-football was on my radar in case things didn’t go to plan.
That injury taught me that footy wasn’t going to last forever, that’s for damn sure.
I’ve always been interested in the coaching aspect of footy and have studied a Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science to leave myself a few avenues to go down when my career comes to an end.
As part of my off-field development, I had a conversation with the Player Development Manager at Adelaide and discussed that coaching was a path I would be interested in going down.
A few of my teammates at the Crows, and former teammate Matthew Wright, were also interested in going down the same path so we organised with the AFL Coaches’ Association to be part of the Next Coach Program.
Partaking in this course has been a really good opportunity for us to get together and educate ourselves on the common passion we share for our lives after football.
The idea of being able to help others, especially the younger players at Adelaide, is something I’m really passionate about.
I’m in my 12th year now so using the knowledge that I’ve gained during my time in the system and being able to condense that and share it is really fulfilling.
Our coaches at Adelaide are great at asking the playing group to voice their opinion on structures and set ups and it really makes our group feel valued.
There are so many aspects of coaching that you have to consider, the biggest is that willingness to continually learn and educate yourself.
You never know enough so it’s important to continue to educate yourself, read books and evolve your own knowledge of the game and coaching tactics.
The most important thing I’ve discovered over the years through Don Pyke, at Adelaide, and my own experience is how vital your relationship is with your players and coaching staff.
Strong relationships help to build success and get the entire club on board to strive together to be successful.
The coach is essentially the face of the club so they’ve got to be well-presented, well-educated and be willing to be the voice for the club.
As we’ve progressed through the Next Coach program it’s been interesting to see the coaches implementing some of the skills we’ve learnt as part of our development.
The next phase for us is to begin putting our own skills into practice.
The six of us who have been doing the course have chatted to our Development Manager Heath Younie and arranged to take some Tuesday craft sessions.
During this time we will be able to run through a half-hour session with one of the line groups by ourselves which is really encouraging.
It’s great that the club are all for this and more than willing to let us have a go at understanding what it’s like to run a session from a coaching perspective.
For the young guys entering the AFL system it’s crucial to think about your life post-football.
You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do but having an idea of the path you want to go down will allow you to spend time investing in yourself.
The PDM’s and Regional Managers are there to help you put steps into place and make your ambitions come to fruition once footy is done.
There are so many examples of careers ending pretty abruptly and I’ve seen some people thrive and some people struggle because of that.
Don’t be afraid to try different things.
I tried about three different university courses until I found the one that I was passionate about.
Make sure you find joy in what you’re doing and don’t just do it because you think you should for financial reasons.
It’s important to find your niche and something that makes you happy.