Next Coach, First Senior Coach

Next Coach, First Senior Coach

Next Coach, First Senior Coach

The AFL Players’ Association and AFL Sportsready Next Coach Program has its first senior coach, with the appointment of Adam Simpson at the West Coast Eagles.


Simpson completed the very first Next Coach program in 2009, his final year in the game, allowing him to accept an assistant coaching role at Hawthorn at the completion of his 300-game AFL career.

The Next Coach program was established to provide a streamlined pathway for AFL players into coaching.

Under the tutelage of coaching guru David Wheadon players receive mentoring and gain industry experience.

Through the Next Coach program Simpson invested more than 150 hours into developing his coaching philosophy and methods by meeting with experts from within the football industry and he also volunteered his time at the Western Jets as an assistant coach.

His rise to the senior ranks comes as no surprise to Wheadon who remembers a diligent student who was committed to getting the most out of the program.

“Really keen, really wanted to learn and explore coaching. Smart and good at understanding concepts of principles of teaching and people management,” Wheadon said.

“He was strong with his own opinions but willing to accept there may be another way to do it. He was willing to do a lot of research. If I suggested he read something he would go and do it. I suggested he go and look at an eBook and he did it in a weekend.”

Wheadon says Simpson’s promotion to a senior position is a great boost for the Next Coach program and will ensure it continues to get high quality participants.

“I hope it means that we get really high quality people who want to do it, who want to learn about the craft of coaching. The program is not about us saying we will tell you how to coach, it’s about opening their eyes to coaching so they can make up their own mind how to do it.”

The importance of people management is one of the fundamentals of the Next Coach program and something Wheadon tries to reinforce, an area he believes Simpson will excel.

“He realises that coaching is an art based on a science and it’s more than just having structures.”

“It’s handling people and teaching.The ability to build relationships with people are you, because don’t forget you treat players as people. They are people who play football. People will buy into a person before they buy into what he is about,” he said.

“They will buy into a coach before they buy into what he is about. That’s human nature.

“He realises that coaching is an art based on a science and it’s more than just having structures.”

Since the first Next Coach program in 2009 more than 90 per cent of participants have gained employment at AFL clubs at the completion of the program.

Next Coach graduates include assistant and development coaches currently in the AFL system such as Jade Rawlings, Brad Miller, Cameron Bruce, Brad Green and Simon Goodwin. Goodwin can lay claim to being the first Next Coach senior coach, when he took the reigns in Essendon’s Round 23 game this year, but Simpson will be the first to hold the position permanently.

In 2013 two of Simpson’s new charges will graduate from the program, his captain – Darren Glass and his ruckman – Dean Cox.

Wheadon was loath to anoint the next senior coach in waiting but would say that he believes the smartest players make the best coaches.

“What I mean by being smart is that they understand what the characteristics of good coaching are. The characteristics of good coaching is basically the ability to teach and the ability to manage people. It is not about knowing the latest defensive or offensive structure, pretty well everybody knows those, it’s about how well you can teach what you know.”

Simpson signed a three-year deal with West Coast on Friday, edging out 13 other applicants in the process.

Adam Simpson played 15 seasons as a midfielder with North Melbourne – captaining the club for five years and winning two premierships, one best and fairest and one All-Australian selection.


Courtesy of AFLPA