Coaching Clinic in Chicago

Last weekend saw the Chicago Swans host their 2nd Coaching clinic since the club started in 1998.  It was long overdue, with the USAFL's Denis Ryan making the trip to the Windy City.  The Chicago Swans had invited both the Chicago Sharks and the Milwaukee Bombers to participate with the the former taking up the opportunity.  Unfortunately the Bombers had a game scheduled on the Saturday. 

The clinic was held at St Viator High School in Arlington Heights (thanks to our assistant coach and assistant junior development officer Paul McMahon), with a great conference room and practice fields in magnificent condition.  With the initial part of the course involving USFOOTY kids clinics, the group headed outdoors to kick off the course.   The Swans had called practice to coincide with the clinic to take the place of what would normally be kids.  The Swans did a great job of acting like children, while Denis went through various procedures involved with running a USFOOTY kids clinic.  Many of the concepts and drills directly related to our "adult" training sessions.  It was good to be involved with a few different drills, something that will be definitely taken to our practices.

Once we had finished the outdoor session, the coaching group went inside to continue with the clinic.  The group was a good mix including experienced Australians, experienced Americans and 1st or 2nd year players.  It was interesting to discover just how much knowledge that the newer guys had picked up since joining the club, a great way to realise what areas as a team we needed to concentrate on in the future. 

We went through different topics regarding coaching techniques and the coach as an individual.  With the 2 different clubs, we were able to pool our ideas and opinions and came up with some interesting talking points.  Drawing from the different experiences and the material supplied by Denis, the afternoon proved to be quite an eye opener with all who participated definitely coming out with more than they started with. 

The Sunday saw the clinic head outside again, this time concentrating more on the training session of an open age group.  This was where the course stepped up a notch.  Denis introduced different methods and activities for the whole training session.  We were lead through many new drills and a few old ones with a slight variation.  We concentrated on skills instruction to the individual and game play to the group as a whole.  It was a fantastic session with all of us leaving the field much better prepared to work on our skills and to run a successful practice.

Once again we headed inside with more valuable information regarding training and game plans, how to develop a game plan and how to tailor training to follow these plans.  Everybody was involved with this, everyone had the opportunity to have an input and some great results came out.

On the Monday following the clinic, Dennis was lucky enough to participate in a junior clinic run by the Chicago Swans' Junior Development Officer, Jeff Norris.  Jeff, to his credit recently organised a group of Chicago school kids to participate in the Jim Stynes Cup, held in Australia.  Denis was keen to see Jeff's program, hoping to help him with the USFOOTY kids program while picking up a few things himself.  Around 40 kids attended the clinic which ran for the whole week,.  Denis was quite impressed by Jeff's efforts and a new relationship between the league and Jeff had been forged. 

Both days of the clinic involved many new ideas, concepts and activities while reinforcing a few old ones.  We were introduced to various resources and insight from Denis, we were required to absorb new information while drawing on our past experiences at the same time.  Everyone who completed the course came out with a much greater understanding of coaching, playing and the game of Aussie Rules overall.  With Denis also able to be involved in the Junior coaching clinic, the weekend proved to be a great success. 

We would like to thank both Denis Ryan in particular and also Rob Oliver.  The Swans and the Sharks really appreciated the time and effort taken by Denis to run the clinic which helped us all immensely.  Interestingly enough, the 2 Chicago teams play this weekend and I'm sure will be trying to use the weekend to gain the advantage over the other.

Alistair MacGlashan
Vice President - Chicago Swans
Assistant Coach - Chicago Swans


- Alistair MacGlashan

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