Skill level today

May 24, 2006
Car 55
AFL Club
Other Teams
Redbacks, Sturt, Liverpool, Arizona
Any current junior coaches out there? Footy or otherwise?

I don't want to sound like an old fossil but no doubt will. I'm finding that the kids I coach now are a long way behind kids of the same age a few years ago. Whether that's just the screen generation coming through I don't know but I've found it's impacting my coaching.

Modern kids seem behind in these areas:

Basic movement skills - running, jumping, diving, dodging, agility

Basic ball skills - catching, throwing, kicking, striking

Basic game skills - knowing where to run to get the ball, reading the play

All the latest coaching stuff across all sports involves game sense. Making training as close as possible to a match. Giving the players problems to solve and letting them explore, experiment. Minimal reliance on highly technical coaching, especially in younger age groups.

I found that this approach worked a treat 5-10+ years ago. Even the kids who were new to the sport had a basic level of skill from free play as toddlers/youngsters. These skills allowed them to be immersed in games and competitive activities straight away. They further developed their skills by playing.

But now I'm finding that kids flounder in game sense activities. Their basic skills are so poor that that simple games cannot function.

Eg can't hold a rally in tennis
Batsmen face a string of wides they can't reach
Can't practice marking because kids can't kick within a bull's roar of a team mate
A 3 vs 3 footy handball game in a confined area becomes nothing but fumbles and scrimmages.

So I've found that I need to take a step back. Make the games simpler. Include some basic technique activites to give them some hope of being able to play games.

Trouble is that by dumbing down activities for kids who are 10, 11, 12+ years old they get bored. They know what sport is so don't want to do activities more suitable for 7, 8 and 9 year olds.

But they don't have the ability to execute more complex (and fun/interesting) stuff

In yesteryear I'd be teaching a kid how to bowl an outswinger. Now it's to help them get the ball on the pitch consistently.

Has anyone found similar? If so how are you handling it?

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Club Legend
Sep 21, 2017
AFL Club
I’m new to coaching, I’ve only been involved this year and it’s for my daughters U/11 football.
We’ve really had to build their ability to footy brick by brick and still probably only have 6-8 that can do a 1-3 step kick with consistent accuracy and less than half of that who can kick further on the run.
I agree about kids having a lower standard of coordination or just that natural level of playing a game and I thinks it just so much less of it happenning in the street and at schools.
I’m a tradie and drive about for different jobs during the week and it’s so rare to see kids playing kick to kick at schools and any sortve sport in the street after school, cricket in the driveway, tennis or kick to kick.

I stuck my nose into teaching and coaching and had a read up about Motor Learning and the three stages of’s pretty dry talking of the steps in learning till an action becomes an instinctual act rather than a stumbly thought process, I’ve found a bit of success with the footy to seperate them into their lines and within that line there will be various levels of skill but for when they practice single skill footy stuff and some isolated game simulation stuff to give them the most opportunity to learn from their peers and be supported and encouraged from those peers in as much of the same circumstances as on gameday.
They come on more quickly if they’ve bonded a bit and don’t want to let the other two down...the mids and wings I group together and theres 6.
It’s also brought out a bit of leadership (mother hen style) in some and spreads the load a bit in terms of the constant encouragement.
We’re playing finals this week and had our biggest win two weeks ago
15.5 95. 2.1 13.
My CHF took a mark on the fifty, took off had a bounce and kicked and goaled from 35 out on a slight angle.
It was awesome


Club Legend
Sep 21, 2017
AFL Club
Id be interested to know what sortve info or where you go looking to find coaching tips I really struggle to come up with drills
I try and do as much collision and tackling stuff as I can for the girls and single skill stuff.
We win because of fitness and the size of some of our girls more than anything else


Premiership Player
Oct 6, 2009
st kilda east
AFL Club
It's a fine balance isn't it?

You wanna make it game based to keep them interested/involved but when/how to slow it down to teach tech is close to impossible

If you thunk back to "our" day - I didnlt have anyone teach me how to kick but had 3 older brothers to watch and i also watched a lot of footy when i was young

I used to do that slam the ball onto your foot style at some point but have no idea how I grew out of it - wish I did we could probably use that!

We also need to mindful that skill will come with exposure and you pretty much can't fast track no matter how much you try and as mentioned in the original post, nailing basic movement patterns initially is the first thing to do then move to game skill concepts (not specific skills) like kicking/handballing etc and let it evolve naturally from there

The problem we have is that we introduce game scoring too early and the grounds/game numbers are way to big - kids should really be doing super 7's/9's or something similar until at least age 12 for mine - a bridge from auskick grid games to the real thing of some sort


Team Captain
Jan 25, 2019
AFL Club
I don't coach but surely boils down to the fact kids are never outside anymore. I live in a family area and I havent heard a footy kicked outside, or heard kids in the street in 3+ years living there. None on bikes, park across the road always empty. It's madness

We couldn't wait to get to the park for a game as soon as school finished. Sad really but I think this is affecting our highest level of sport now too; Socceroos especially. We are just so far behind the rest of the world where kids are kicking a ball from an early age and learning every day...


Club Legend
Dec 14, 2015
AFL Club
I don't coach but surely boils down to the fact kids are never outside anymore.
Yes, kids play more indoors these days and there are more restrictions on outdoors but kids are playing football
and the majority are enjoying it more. We have football in graduated steps and kids are actually coached.
In my day a coach's role was simply to put the best 18 onto the ground. Today, it is all about skills.
Look at any level of football and the skills are better with maybe the exception of goal-kicking.

Sad really but I think this is affecting our highest level of sport now too;
People make the mistake of saying the skill level is down in the AFL because it is not entertaining as it used to be.
The rise of defensive tactics has impinged on the game at AFL greatly.
Before the advent of the AFL the state leagues had beautiful football because the champions stood out more.

Socceroos especially. We are just so far behind the rest of the world where kids are kicking a ball from an early age and learning every day..
Practicing the skills to be a soccer star would be pretty boring to today's kids .
Most football and most sports have versions now have versions the appeal more to kids.

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