Do you need to have played sport at a high level to be able to coach it?



A question that crops up time and time again in the coaching world is the question of retired athletes becoming coaches.  Do retired athletes become better coaches?  We spoke with Sam Rapoport – the Senior Director of Football Development who does not believe you have to have played the sport before coaching it….



However, with this in mind, the AFL (Australian Football League) recently released stats saying that 75% of all their coaches in the AFL are previous players.  The AFL Coaches Association chief Mark Brayshaw said last week when unveiling the “women’s coaching crusade” aimed at enhancing the pathway for prospective female coaches:


“Seventy-five per cent of the male coaches are ex-players. And in our view, in a short period of time, there’ll be enough ex-AFLW players [who] can become coaches,”


So maybe you dont NEED to have been a player first, but it certainly helps?



So this week, we are asking you:

  • Do you feel former players / athletes get ahead of you quicker in the coaching ranks?
  • Do you feel you miss some coaching knowledge because you have not been an athlete or player?
  • Do you agree that you don’t NEED to have been a player, but it certainly helps?
  • Do retired athletes become better coaches?


Post your comments below!




  1. Well said H!
    I’m not from AFL but we often have exactly the same issues in Track & Field…I personally think that many former athletes make terrible coaches because they are in the selfish and ego mindset (which you need to be an athlete but not a coach).

  2. I have not played AFL at an elite level, only a high division of community footy, but I am coaching at the elite level (women’s). I don’t think having played at an elite level affects coaching ability, but it does affect the way you relate to other coaches as they reminisce about their playing days a lot. I think you need to have played at some level of the sport to coach, however. Many retired athletes in the AFL have not made good coaches, and I am annoyed at the AFL Coaches Association with this female coach program because they are only funding TWO AFLW players to upskill their coaching skills. Meanwhile, there are many (great) female coaches at community and elite youth level who don’t have the funds or the opportunities to upskill or get positions at a higher level and they have been ignored in a typical move to keep jobs in house. The funds would be better spent getting 10 local female coaches to do their Level 2 accreditation, rather than two players doing a coaching course that isn’t part of the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme.


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