NORTH Melbourne coach Brad Scott shared his thoughts on the importance of feedback and leadership at the inaugural AFL Central Victoria Coaching Academy presentation this week.
Scott was joined by Ben Robbins, who mentors North Melbourne's leaders, for a 90-minute presentation to members of the academy at La Trobe University on Wednesday night.
"I'm really passionate about coaching development as a whole… be that ex-players or current players who want to go into coaching, or coaches at local level who want to find out what AFL coaches are doing at senior level," Scott told the Bendigo Advertiser.
"I'm really passionate about sharing coaching philosophies and methods, developing a coaching pathway and upskilling local coaches."
The AFLCV Coaching Academy has a mission statement to "develop coaches in a quality learning environment with the aim of positively impacting the standards of all levels of football throughout the AFL Central Victoria region.”
Its establishment comes at a time of a high turnover rate of coaches in the region shown by the fact that of the 28 clubs in the Bendigo, Heathcote District and Loddon Valley leagues, only six of the coaches last year had been at their club just two seasons earlier in 2016.
"Something we talk a lot about at the AFL Coaches Association is how can we help the coaching pathway, which can also help at the top level," Scott said.
"If we want to go and find our next assistant coach, right now we're basically just looking at a pool of ex players.
"It's very difficult at the moment to go and find out who are the best coaches at local level so we can bring them into AFL clubs.
"So from that perspective, the more that we can develop coaches at local level, it helps us at the higher level because we then get better ready-made coaches.
"And that's better than what we're doing at the moment, which is basically teaching those ex players coming in as assistant coaches from scratch."
Scott is preparing for his 10th season as coach of North Melbourne, having led the Kangaroos in 193 games for 99 wins since 2010.
Leadership and feedback was the key focus of his presentation to the academy, which has 22 participants.
"I think there's a lot of myths in coaching, but really what we're trying to do as coaches is to improve our players and therefore improve our team's performance," Scott said.
"The way we lead and teach our players to lead is critical, but ultimately, in any form of education feedback is important."
Scott made the trip to Bendigo ahead of the Kangaroos' first JLT Community Series match against St Kilda at Werribee on Saturday.
North Melbourne is coming off a 12-10 season in which it finished in ninth position last year.
As for the Kangaroos' prospects this year, like every season Scott says he is approaching 2019 - which begins against Fremantle at Optus Stadium - with cautious optimism.
"The competition is tighter than ever. I can see a way where we can be really competitive with the best teams, but also a few injuries and things going against you that it doesn't take much to slip," Scott said.
"You only have to look back to last season when Collingwood and West Coast were tipped to finish in the bottom reaches of the ladder and they played off in the grand final. That's not poor judgement, it's just a reflection of how tight the competition is."
The only Bendigo Pioneer draftee on North Melbourne's list this year is vice-captain Robbie Tarrant, who is recovering from an AC joint injury.
"Robbie is one of our consummate professionals, so if anyone is going to get up for the start of the year it will be him," Scott said.
"But that being said, he's a very important player and round one is only one game. If he's ready he'll play, if not then I think he'll be fairly close to being round two."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.