Player Rotations

Player Rotations in Junior Footy. 

One of the hardest things to do as a coach, at almost all levels, is to rotate players into different positions.  Especially in junior footy, the main aim in player rotations is to give as many players as possible, the chance to try all different kinds of positions.  As you may of seen in the AFL, players can be drafted as forwards and end up having amazing careers down back.  For example, Ted Richards from Sydney was a highly sort after key forward out of high school, breaking goal kicking records along the way.  Now the All Australia had made a very successful AFL career in the back line. 

In junior footy, we want to give players the opportunity to play in all different positions throughout a season, and even in a game.  You see it all the time, the ruckman from the under 11’s ends up being a small midfielder by colts. Kids grow and mature at different levels, therefore we need to give players the skills at multiple levels all throughout their junior footy career.
Tackers to 12’s

Is this highly developmental stage of footy, all players need to be rotated throughout almost all of the positions.  Getting players to understand the different areas of the ground really engages their minds into the tactical side of footy.  We need to make sure we spread the talent throughout the whole field.  If you have players who are clearly better than others in the team, try and spread them out evenly around the field. For example, don’t put all your gun mid fielders in the middle together.  Yes your team may get the ball a lot more, but the other players in the team may not get as much of a chance to contribute.  If you put your really good players around the rest of your team, they can bring the level of your whole team up to another level. 
13’s to 15’s

Similar to above, we need to spread the talent over the whole ground (please read above if you not have not already done so). Furthermore at this age, you will have some really tall players mixed in with some really small players at the same age.  For instance, play your tallest player in multiple positions.  Obviously you would want to give them time in the ruck, but let them have a chance running with the midfield without being the ruckman.  You never know, they might stop at 6’3 or 4 and play as a tall midfielder latter in their footy life (Think Chris Judd, Marcus Bontempelli, etc).  Furthermore, play your smaller players all around the ground too.  Give them time in the forward and back pockets, as well as closer to the middle of the ground.  Now obviously, at this age level there are premierships on the line, but remember, the majority of the year should be around developing the team as a whole.  
16’s and up. 

Now as the players are getting older, and probably more serious about their footy, it could be time to start consolidating positions.  There is nothing wrong with playing the majority of the games with players in their preferred position based on size and ability, but remember, it’s still junior footy and development is still the core factor.  Spreading the talent is still really important.  You do not want all your gun players in the forward line because how will you transition the ball out of the back line?  We still suggest to rotate players regularly in different positions at this age, but probably not quite as much as the younger age groups.  Footy is just as much about tactical ability than it is about physical ability.  Develop your players as a whole.