From the Vault – David Parkin Keynote at Coaches Conference

Posted on Sep 09 2021

AFL coaching icon David Parkin presented a keynote at the 2019 Basketball Australia Coaches Conference in Ballarat. The Hall of Fame mentor captivated the 150 coaches in attendance for 90-minutes with his presentation on leadership and relationships in coaching. Here are some notes and valuable takeaways gleaned from his talk.

  • Three books of influence for coaches and leaders –
    • Legacy – James Kerr
    • Drive – Daniel Fink
    • Any Given Team – Ray McLean
  • “From a coaching point of view, you are as much as leader and teacher as you are a coach” – David Parkin
  • It is important to develop the behaviours of players beyond the basketball court
  • “There is always a better way to do something today than we were doing exceptionally well yesterday,” Alistair Clarkson (Hawthorn coach)
  • “The challenge is to always get better, even if you’re the best; especially if you are the best,” – Wayne Smith (former All Blacks coach)
  • Engagement starts asking the right questions in the first place
  • The coach is a builder of “meaningful relationships”
  • Challenge at the AFL level with 40-plus players and 40-plus support staff to form and grow relationships with as the senior coach
  • Bigger coaching and support staff in all sports – need to invest in relationships across all levels of the team/organisation
  • The ETS of leadership/coaching –
    • Engage– take interest in me as a person
    • Teach me the skills I need to carry out my role
    • Support me through difficult times and challenges

  • 11 of the elite leaders interviewed for the book “Perform – Or Else” (David Parkin and Paul Bourke) said the two key elements for leadership were –
    • Passionate and committed to getting the task done
    • Clarity of organisation
  • Focus groups of staff prioritised “demonstrated care beyond my capacity to do the job”
  • Provide the opportunity for your players to review and give feedback on the performance of your coaches]
  • Example of 1995 Carlton premiership team – leadership group drove standards, values, game plan and had significant input into selection
  • Sports psychologist Anthony Stewart identified playing and senior players were “committed, competent and experienced”
  • Big leap of faith to “hand over” so much of the program to the senior players
  • “Leadership has to be flexible and situational,” – DP

  • A leader needs to establish expectations WITH and FOR staff/players
  • Develop people in all levels of the team/organisation that are predicable in nature
  • Focus on developing the person and the athlete
  • Geelong Football Club – one thing on the wall in their rooms – “Sacrificial Act of the Week”- focus on those doing something for others
  • Geelong has been rated first by AFLPA in athlete wellbeing for eight years. Sydney and Hawthorn likewise in top three in that time – overall winners of nine of the last 15 premierships

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