Enhanced football helps Aussie rules footballers. Improve your skill level and AFL performance with an online kicking analysis or private coaching!!
Highlights of the episode:
- How he created Enhanced Football
- Key pillars that he focuses on when developing an athlete’s kicking
- Tips to keep athletes engaged
- What his marketing strategy in social media looks like
- His fave tv series
- Matthew LLoyd
- Ross Lyon
- Kevin Ball
- Aaron Naughten
- Chris Fagan
- Mark Williams
- Craig Starcevich
- Simon Black
- Belle Dawes
- Tony Lockett
- Peter Mckenna
- Chris Fagan
- Jason Dunstall
- Zimmorlei Farquharsonc
Connect with Ben
Coaching app: https://maxone.ai/
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Jack: Hello, my name is Jack McLean. I am your host. And tonight my guest is Ben Stanley, the founder of Enhanced Football. Enhanced Football helps Aussie rules footballers improve your skills and AFL performance with online kicking analysis and/or private coaching.
Before we start tonight’s episode, our mission here at ‘Prepare Like A Pro’ is to empower aspiring athletes and staff with practical knowledge from some of the industry’s most inspiring individuals and to strengthen the AFL community. If you like the show, please show your support by following us on Instagram and subscribing to the podcast. We’re on iTunes, Spotify and YouTube.
Welcome Ben. Thanks for jumping on, mate.
Ben: Good night, Jack. How are you doing, mate?
Jack: I’m doing well. It was only a couple of weeks ago when we were doing this solo again, but now we get to dive into your story with a bit more detail, which will be good.
Ben: And I really enjoyed that a couple of weeks ago. Kicking experts and things like that. And I rewatched it a couple of days later. I actually listened to it when I was driving home from Toowoomba. So, that entertained me for a couple of days. It was really good. I enjoyed it. That was good.
Jack: Yeah, I’ve had a few footballers reach out and say, ‘Where’s the Kicking podcast? I want to listen to Ben Choco’s* episode.’ And I said, ‘We haven’t quite released it yet on the podcast, but you can watch it on the YouTube.’ YouTube’s good now. If you’ve got the premium account, and I’ve realized this recently, it acts like a podcast. You can switch off your phone and actually listen now, which is handy. But the podcast is coming. We’ll release the bite-size episodes in the next coming weeks, I think Choco’s is next week and yourself will be in a couple of weeks. So, stay tuned.
Ben: It was really interesting. I had to leave, but then when I relistened to when they started interacting and I think Choco sort of started it where he just was really interested in the torpedo and picking Nite’s* and Chapman’s* brain and old that.
And it was really interesting to just hear the discussions and the more learning off each other. I thought it was brilliant, mate.
Jack: The biggest takeaway for me, because it’s not my area of expertise, is that there’s a lot of momentum with what you guys are creating online in face-to-face, with putting a bit more time and effort into how important skill is for football.
But also the tactical ability with how you can influence the game. Like if you can keep well over a zone, you know, all those defensive zones that everyone puts so much time and energy into, you can kick it over the top. But it’s a pretty exciting thing to think about.
Ben: Yeah. I just got sent a link, I think it was Footy Classified and they were talking to Matthew LLoyd and Ross Lyon about the value of kicking.
And just about how we all look into these tactics and structures, which are fantastic. But at the end of the day, goal kicking is the most important thing in our game. And Matthew LLoyd was going through it, Ross Lyon, he didn’t mentioned Kevin Ball’s name, but he mentioned they had a biomechanic to use at Freemantle. So, I’m guessing that was Kevin Ball.
They really honed in on the kicking technique. And then they asked, ‘Do clubs have a goal kicking coach?’ And they’ve sort of come to a consensus that at the moment probably not. Some clubs may, but they don’t have that sole person working on goalkicking. It might be a forwards coach that occasionally jumps in and says he’s a bit of a hand with the routine and things like that. But there’s a real space for, I think, goal kicking. Goal kicking is number one, kicking is key. Get the experts in and help out if people need it.
Jack: Yeah, a hundred percent, mate. Kevin did mention that Ross was huge on it. And he gave Kev the huge licensing, bringing him over and being… It’s actually quite an interesting role, he was a biomechanics, but also he worked in the gym, improving their tradition to help their kicking too, which is awesome.
But, and that’s something that was another takeaway, actually, how Choco, since being at Melbourne, they do 15 minutes of elite kicking development every session. Like you said, it’s just fundamental, but Matthew Lloyd with his goalkicking, if you can kick and get that routine down, Ben, it’s pretty effective. Certainly, well for him.
Ben: And they put up a couple like that. I think they mentioned Aaron Norton at the moment, who’s an absolute star of the game, but his goal kicking lets him down a little bit. And I pointed it out that he just doesn’t get the momentum through the footy that your Lockets* did, that your Dance* did, that your Lloyds did. They even had paid a mechanic up there, Bernie Quinlan, like all those. When you break it down, they got their body in line to the target. And they got momentum there. So, there’s one thing for him, but there’s a takeaway. I’d be listening to Matthew LLoyd, if I was him.
Jack: Yeah. Well, before we start with your journey. You’re in the industry, in the private sector and also working closely with Bell and the professional athletes. So, you’ve got your finger on the pulse. How far off, do you reckon, it is before every club does have a kicking expert, either part-time or potentially full-time? What do you think?
Ben: I think it’s got to be close, doesn’t it, Jack? It has to be. I think we’re realizing now that skill in kicking is key in the game and it just hurts you, if you got a couple of players on your team that can’t execute the skill.
So, I suppose, it’s all very relevant to the COVID situation and how the AFL’s going. And you know more about that than me, Jack. And then what sort of budgets they’ve got at the moment, but I think there’s a huge space, whether it’s part-time or even a full-time role for a skills or kicking coach. In AFLW 100% and in AFL Mens as well.
Jack: I guess for the coaches listening, that’s an opportunity to set yourself apart, do some workshops and make that a real strength of your coaching because it’s obviously super competitive to be an assistant coach at AFL club. But if you can be the kicking coach that might not be as competitive, do you think?
Ben: Yeah, I would say so. You look around and social media isn’t everything, but there’s a few of us on social media and it’s growing, isn’t it? Like they’re starting to be a bit more interested in it, which is great. So, it’s getting around, the word’s spreading.
And I know myself, before the AFLW, I was in Brisbane Lions, AFLW team. Craig got in contact with me just from seeing what I’m doing on social media. He did his homework and I was down there once or twice a week during pre-season and just honing in and just working with the girls in small groups and individually. And we saw some really good results. But I would love more time, we’d love to make that at any club, that full-time capacity to be able to work with people in small groups just to hone in on their skills.
An example probably would have been working with Zimmy Farquharson. I think she won the Rising Star for Lions in round two, I think. But I was just working with her on her snapshots, just working on the grip and body position, and routine of a snapshot, little things like that. Like when she kicked the snap goal, I was jumping off my seat. I was like, ‘Look at that, Zimmy! That’s awesome.’ And it’s her commitment to do the extra stuff. And just to take on the advice and things like that. So, I think there’s a huge space room.
Jack: I think that’s super exciting for people like yourself that are on the forefront, but also for guys like Kevin Ball. The success that they have, like Ross Lyon talking about in the media, that’s got to have a bit of weight. There’s momentum behind it in the industry, that’s for sure. So, all the coaches listening, jump on board. Do you do workshops with coaches? Is that something that you, guys, offer?
Ben: Yeah. It’s becoming more and more popular. We do all, we’ve got about three or four different coaching modules that we deliver. But the most popular one is ‘How to teach kicking’. The way we teach it to females, males, juniors, it’s all the same. So, it doesn’t matter what age, what level. We just strip it right back to the basics and go through the fundamentals. And I do the same thing with senior men or the AFLW girls. I had a 13-year-old girl yesterday. Same process.
‘How to teach kicking’ is a really popular module. Particularly a lot of clubs in Queensland, it’s hiking up at the moment. It’s going good.
Jack: Oh, yeah. Let’s dive into your journey, mate. Let’s take this to the very beginning. What age did you discover you had a passion for coaching? And we’ll go into this specializing in kicking later on. But coaching itself.
Ben: Yeah, I suppose I was always that type of kid that was very interested in teaching and coaching side of things. Like I always wanted to be a PE teacher. And I’m still doing that now as the Enhanced Football stuff. So, it was something that I was passionate about early and I got into little assistant coaching jobs when I was really young. And by the time I was 27, I was captain coaching aside*, which was a big challenge because you’re coaching guys that are 38 and legends of the club and they’re listening to a 27-year-old. There’s challenge there as well.
But the journey probably started with the PE teaching. That’s where I got my teaching experience. And you see a lot of great coaches around the AFL industry, and a lot of them got teaching backgrounds. So, I think it’s set me in good stead.
Jack: Was that the plan with teaching? Or you also had a passion with teaching and the passion for coaching just started to overtake?
Ben: Yeah, so my passion has always been with footy. And that’s always been a huge part of my life and the teaching has been there as a passion as well. But, I think, it’s really helped with the coaching in football as well, just with people’s skills and management organization, all that really important stuff that you see your Chris Higgins* and those types of guys are so good at. So, I think teaching is a great groundwork for what we do, I suppose. Working with different age groups as well.
Jack: And you, obviously, had some strengths to be recognized as a player coach at the age of 27. Like you mentioned, there were some older peers. So, was that something that you started to grow confidence yourself about being a coach when you were taking on that title or you were already pursuing leadership positions at that stage and it was something that you attracted?
Ben: I guess, I was always involved in leadership positions as a player from that 22 to 27 and played under some great captains, great coaches. And so you learn from them. And then, being a young teacher, I qualified at the age of whatever it was, I think 23, I went into the coaching position fairly confident as a 27, 28-year-old, because that’s what you do for a job every day. You’re out in front of the class and you’re delivering content and things like that. Football was always my expertise. So, I was even more confident in that area when you’re in front of a group. I suppose the main challenge was the age. You know, ‘Who is this 27-year-old coming in?’ But it’s all good experience. I think that was a great sort of foundation to get into coaching early. And also I did a lot with the AFL, just as a sort of a development officer type role where you go around to schools. And so, that’s what I did when I was at uni. And that was a great sort of progression as well and helped my teaching out.
Jack: It sounds like you were busy, you were keeping yourself productive through that period. Is that advice from any influences around the time? Did you have mentors or were you sort of forging your own way? What did your development look like at this stage of your career?
Ben: My dad was probably my biggest mentor. He was a very good footballer himself. Probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever had as well. He was just a great people’s person and a manager, and really got the best out of his players. Just a really motivating, and encouraging, and supporting coach. It kept everyone together. So, he was probably my main mentor with the coaching and teaching side of things. He didn’t have the teaching background. He’s a plumber. But it just came naturally. So, I suppose that’s where that came from.
And early on another coach that didn’t coach me, but he was an ex AFL player. It was Nathan Clarke. He was on the Brisbane Lions list. Probably played about six or seven games. He was a coach, went down and coached Eastlakes as a young captain coach as well. So, I really leaned on him for some advice as a young captain coach and just sorta tried to learn some lessons, what he went through as well.
So, Nathan Clarke. He’s a Ripping* coach up here in Queensland as well. And he’s involved in the Simon Black Academy at the moment. So, continually looking at what they do and I’m learning off Clarke and those types of blokes. They’re really good football people.
Jack: On that topic for development and learning. So, mentors are, obviously, important, like you mentioned. What are some other ways and methods that you’ve used to sharpen your craft over the years?
Ben: I guess, just taking up any opportunity. The beauty of my other job as a PE teacher is coaching different sports, viewing different programs from basketball to volleyball, to water polo. I’ve done a bit of work with Rugby Union and things like that, just through the PE teaching. And you learn a lot, and you’ve probably done the same, Jack. When you go to other sports and you look at them and you take little bits from other sports and think, ‘Hey, this is what maybe can improve our game as well.’
And you look at a lot of AFL programs. They get Rugby League and Rugby Union blokes to come in to help with their tackling. And why wouldn’t you? Like, let’s get the experts in and let’s learn off other sports. I’ve been going to watch junior soccer training. The organization and the progressions and the structure they have around training to me is just really high-class.
And I can go to any club and look at that. And I just look at that and I think, how can I implement that into AFL sessions? How can I educate coaches, particularly up here in Queensland to sort of look like that? Because I think, obviously, being a world game, they’re probably a little bit ahead of our industry at the moment. Would you agree with that?
Jack: Rugby soccer? From the technical side of things?
Ben: Yeah. I just look at some of the programs and I think we can learn a lot. And you learn, it’s a lot of AFL coaches that they do travel and go look at programs over in Europe and in the States, whatever it is, and learn from other sports. So, I think that’s a big thing in our CODE at the moment.
Jack: Yeah. A hundred percent. I did notice that Sam Mitchell was actually being on hold from the technical side. And that’s where I grew awareness of it. And Cleco* is well known for, like you said, just getting on and networking with lots of head coaches in all other codes like NFL and just taking bits and pieces.
It also probably gets you thinking a bit more laterally, doesn’t it? If you get stuck in a bubble in anything in life, you can be quite narrow-minded. Whereas if you sort of have that exploration mode by looking at different things, you might not think of something until you see something done differently. So, that’s a really good point.
Ben: There’s a lot of coaches when I go around and travel to clubs. But because they’ve grown up in a footy environment… I think we need to look outside our bubble a little bit as well. So, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re just trying to get better and so, hopefully, we can assist other coaches with that as well.
Jack: And with that, as you sort of process as you’re going about, working on ways to work on your craft over the years, will it be something through research that you’ve seen and that tickles your fancy, so you focus on that for a few weeks and sharpen that area of your coaching? Or is it more needs basis, depending on certain athletes that you’re working with? And you’ve got an athlete in mind that you’re working on one-on-one and you’re thinking, ‘This drill is not working well. I need to go find another drill.’ Take us through your thought process on researching. Where’s the why coming from, what’s the purpose?
Ben: I think it’s a needs basis. We’re working with so many different people and there’s no one fix for one athlete. We’re working with different size athletes, different shapes, different genders. So, we will continually try out things and sometimes it just doesn’t work.
So, that’s when we’re trying to do it. We are looking for other solutions and it’s a bit of trial and error sometimes, Jack. We’re not going to get it right all the time. Sometimes you might just nail it and the kicking technique’s working and it’s all looking beautiful, but other times it just might take a little bit longer.
So, yeah, very individual needs basis. And you’ve got to be willing to try out things, and be willing to fail, fall forward and fail, and then try again and come up with a new strategy. So, that’s what we’re continually doing. And it’s a big challenge because we’re working with kids of eight years old to dads that are 50 that want to learn kicking to teach their sons, or moms. We love doing that. It’s so good. We’ve had a few recently, and it’s awesome doing that sort of stuff too.
Jack: It’s great, mate. I love watching your YouTube clips, Instagram, commentating as well. You really break down the purpose of the drill. You can tell the teaching side comes through in your content.
And that was another thing that just popped up in my head, like Chaco* later on, once he had to go, mentioned how much he loves seeing you using the pills. And that’s when he reached out to you, he saw a clip or something like that on YouTube. What’s this guy in Queensland doing, doing the drills, using the precision ball? Which is pretty cool in today’s world. If that happened 50 years ago, when he’d really hear about it? But now we can sort of connect in that space.
Take us through the creation of the Enhanced Football. How had it all come about?
Ben: I’ve been doing it for probably like a long time without the official sort of branding and things like that. So, just helping out some young kids on the Sunshine Coast for probably seven or eight years. It hasn’t been a big program, just some individual kids sporadically throughout the years. And then, like many businesses through the times of COVID, when I was at home teaching online… A lot of people were coming to me saying there’s actually not a huge amount of AFL resources on YouTube online. And that’s when the idea clicked. And I just thought, ‘I’m really going to try to share as much of my teaching knowledge, my football knowledge from when I was young to now, I want to just share as much as I can.’
And I think that’s why we’ve grown pretty quickly, is because I’m really willing to share, I’m not holding anything back. I just want to make coaches’ lives easier, I want to help kids, I want to help senior footballers. It’s a bit of advice, actually, I’ve got off Rugby Bricks. I don’t know if you’ve seen him on Instagram. So, I saw his Instagram and I just thought like, ‘This is a brilliant account.’ And he goes into a lot of the kicking technique with the conversions. And I’ve learned a lot of that, just looking at his stuff and transferred it to AFL. But I just asked him for some advice, what to do on Instagram? Because initially I thought, ‘Should I be sharing so much?’ And he goes, ‘Ben, whatever you’ve got, you’ve just got to be willing to share it. Then when you create programs later on, people will be happy to purchase it. If you start school, basically.’
So, I thought that was good advice, because I think some people do hold back. There are a lot of AFL accounts out there that they’re great, don’t get me wrong, but I still think they’re holding stuff back. Just let it out there. Your stuff’s great too. All your exercises are out there. All your stuff you do for your strength & conditioning, it’s there if people want to find it, isn’t it?
Jack: Yeah. I had the same advice at the early stages with ‘Prepare Like A Pro’. Nicholas Scott who ran a gym and he said, ‘Always give first. It does pay dividends later.’ And it just resonated with me. I’ve had the same experience, mate.
I think, one, you just go for it. So, it’s just more motivating as well, because you’re trying to discover new content, learn new things and then understand it to be able to then teach it. So, you have to really refine your philosophy and be clear. People reach out and especially with COVID times, like you said, you get some nice messages about how helpful it is and how the chips and stuff helps. So, you can make a bigger impact, which is what we all want to do as coaches. You can make it such a big impact by doing it that way.
Ben: Like I’m used to having an impact just with a team. And that’s brilliant. It is a great experience to win Premierships as a coach, and have an impact on not just a team but a football club community. That’s a great feeling. And you’ve done that at the top level too, Jack. You were involved in a great environment.
But what we’re doing now, I suppose, is we’re having an impact on people in Australia and around the world, which still astounds me. I’ll get messages from Japan and Poland. It’s amazing. And, like you said, that makes it heck good, when you get those messages of people appreciating, just those gratitude messages. And I really appreciate them, because I think it’s for people to take the time, to write a message and say thank you. It’s amazing. So, I really appreciate it when that happens. It makes all the hard work worth it.
Jack: And talk us through what you’ve mentioned, mate. So, have you got some coaches that help you out with Enhanced Football as well?
Ben: Yeah, so, probably the main one is Bell. She finds it hard because the AFLW schedule and lifestyle is very challenging. These girls are just amazing. They are basically full-time athletes, training as hard as anyone, but yet they’re expected to work. And she’s got other jobs as well, and she helps me out and she’s trying to as hard as any one I’ve ever seen, so she’d be the main one. And then we just have some great coaches around the place that we get for our holiday programs and things like that.
But to give you an example, Bell and I went to a great football club in Brisbane called Sherwood the other day. We left here at 6:00 AM in the morning. We did a clinic at 8 to 11, another one at one to four, and then we trained their senior women’s team six to eight and we’d go home at about 10 o’clock. I’m a big guy and I was pretty tired, but she had energy the whole way through. And if you’ve seen her play footy and you’ve met her, Jack, you’d understand that she’s just an energized bunny. So, it’s good to have people like that around.
Jack: Yeah. You can fade off and left some. That’s interesting to compare yourself to others. That’s a solid day.
Ben: It’s a big day.
Jack: And for those listening that are interested to work with you. Like I mentioned in the intro, these digital products and, obviously, face-to-face products. So, that’s one day and your holiday program. So, you’ve got holiday programs that you guys offer. When it’s not school holidays time, how does it fit in with your school teaching?
Ben: Yeah. So, mornings, afternoons and weekends as well. We do a lot of private lessons, the one-on-one stuff. And that’s where you get great value in that, just to spend one-on-one time for an hour with someone just working on whatever part of the game, it could be ground balls, but most people want that help with kicking. And then we do small groups, large groups. We go to see teams.
And then for the people that can’t get in contact with us, where we don’t have staff members, we have our online programs and they’ve been really successful. And, really, the idea came from your industry, Jack. We’ve all gone to a gym, and you rock up to a gym and you just get lost. You’re like, ‘What do I do?’ It’s much easier if you’ve got someone writing a program for you. So, our app is very simple. All you need is your phone. And it’s got the training session with all the videos of Bell and I doing the drills. It’s all outlined for you. So, it’s basically like your own AFL personal trainer in your pocket.
At the moment we’ve got a pre-season program and a kicking program, which are going along really well. And the feedback’s been good so far. So, it’s going good.
Jack: Awesome, mate. On the topic that we were discussing before. Brett Barclay has written through a message. He’s listening to live chat and he’s written to you and said, ‘I’m glad you shared. I’ve used the drills for our boys at Morici Ruse*.
Ben: It’s a huge club up here. And footy in Queensland is thriving. They’ve got over probably 500 juniors, boys and girls. And they’ve been really proactive in seeking us out to give something back to their community. So, we did a kicking analysis for every single kid at the club. I would see with the coach through the whole team and I’ll do the kicking analysis.
And the feedback from that, from the parents, they really appreciated that the club invested in something a little bit extra. I’m not sure, if it’s been done before, but it was a big job, doing over 500 boys and girls, sending through video feedback for each. So, it was a really good experience.
And it’d be interesting to look back, to see if any of them, you know, in a few years they might be playing AFL or good level of footy around Queensland. And it’d be good to reflect back on. It’s all saved somewhere.
Jack: Yeah. So, how did that practically work? Did they all film their own technique and send it through?
Ben: No, I went out to training, so I’d go out and run like a 30 minute kick education session, like where we’d go through the technique, break it down, do some drills. And then I would film them as a team. So, just get them rolling through, kicking on the run. And then I’d share the YouTube clip with the coach and then they would sit down. Exactly the videos you see on my Instagram, same sort of stuff. And with a 10-year-olds I might give them three things they’re doing well, and one thing to improve. A bit more detailed for the older ones.
Jack: That’s great. And going back to the creation of the Enhanced Football. For the small business owners, listening in to the podcast, whether they own a gym or they’re a football coach or they’re a teacher like yourself, or they want to start to create more coaching opportunities like you’ve done. When you were a teacher and a coach at the same time, how did you build the courage or had the motivation come to create the Enhanced Football? You mentioned, it was organic. Do you remember the moment where you went live?
Ben: I think, it’s what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about. I’ve always loved teaching, but there’s this extra love for football and AFL and teaching that. I think it’s just the best game in the world as you probably do, Jack. It’s the culture around it, the game itself. And I’m just so passionate about making it better and helping people in the game, whether that be coaches, parents, kids.
And, I suppose, the thing that I didn’t expect, and I was actually speaking to Bell the other night about it, was the passion I’ve got for women’s footy now. It’s really big. And I wouldn’t have done that. And I said it to Bell, if I didn’t reach out to her, and we just did one session just to see if we clicked, if it worked, I don’t think that this would have grown and I would have had the same sort of passion for women’s footy, as I do now.
So, it’s sort of just happened, like you said, organically, and I’m really glad it did because women’s footy is just thriving. I’m loving it.
Jack: Yeah. That’s uncanny timing. It was obviously meant to be, you two. I’m doing that because the industry, like you said, this is pretty much straight vertical in the direction it’s going.
I think it’s been in the media now. We’re talking about it off here, where there’ll be full-time athletes in 2026, which is a huge carrot for those footballers that aren’t professional at the moment, but are working towards that as a goal. Yeah, the growth has just been massive ever since day one, really.
What would be your ratio for female clubs and male, but also private athletes?
Ben: I would actually say, we would be probably 60% female, 40% male at the moment, particularly with our private sessions. And in the team staff and the other, they might be pretty even, but definitely the private and the small group sector. And it probably comes across on Instagram too.
I get so many girls. Whether it’s because maybe girls from like Bell’s age, maybe they didn’t get the kicking practice at a young age that a boy would have, I’m not too sure. But they just need the help and support with their kicking.
And from what I’ve found from working with all the Lions’ girls and all the girls up here in Queensland, that a lot of them are wanting to get to that level. They’re just sponges. They just want to learn. They want to try new things. And it’s really a pleasure to coach them because they’re willing to learn and their respect levels are through the roof. They always thank you. And just those little things make a difference. I’m really enjoying it.
Jack: And with the Lions program, how did that look over a week? How much time did you get with the girls? And was it homework sessions, top of setup or was it all face-to-face coaching? How did this sort of schedule look?
Ben: It sort of started with that a few of them were coming up to see me, like privately. And it was because of Bell. She started to see improvements and then she must’ve recommended, then the couple came up. And then I started to get there, to go down to do some pre-season work. So, it was face-to-face.
And that was a mix of actually in there running the drills under Craig’s guidance and things like that. But also taking certain individuals out, that may have needed rehab or whatever, and just working on technique stuff and mostly to do with kicking. And they were really interested in it, the whole team. Just trying to give them one area to work on to, hopefully, make them a better kick.
We saw improvements, but there’s still a way to go with all kicking in both leagues, I think. It was a good experience and really good to see a great program down there. The way they train is just phenomenal. I was so impressed with how hard they train and their commitment to it. So, I couldn’t speak all in.
Jack: And what were some key pillars that you were focusing on? For the development footballers that are listening in and some of the professional athletes. What were the key areas of focus in regards to kicking?
Ben: I suppose the main one that I was trying to introduce is kicking on the run. It’s gotta be the most important thing, right? So, when you’re kicking on the run, we’ve got to give ourselves a bit of room. I call it the pushing phase. We’ve got to actually push the ball out and you look at the best kicks in the camp, Bondson Pally*, Daniel Rich, Amanda Breeze*, all those types of blokes. All the photos I put up on Instagram, just have a look at how they actually get the ball, and they push the ball out with nice, relaxed arms.
A lot of coaches, particularly in female programs, they’re so obsessed with a low ball drop, that they actually turn them into robots and their arms don’t move. So, we want them to be a little bit more relaxed, push the ball out to allow all the body segments to come through fluently. So, that was one of the main ones, just getting them more fluent on the run. And when you push it out like that, it can help your body position, it can help your fluency.
And I suppose the other one would be ball grip. The girls have a big challenge in particular with ball grip and some of the younger boys as well. And I always say, I never use hand size as an excuse, and I don’t want coaches to do it as well, because hand size is no excuse. If you’ve got a good grip, you can control the footy down with practice and correct instruction.
So, probably those two things here, the grip and that pushing phase to help them on the run.
Jack: Another one’s tuned in is Marie pew Tati*, and she’s just written, ‘I have enjoyed your video content, Ben, and use them often for some one-on-one training.’
Jack: So, we’ll go into the challenges, both from a business point of view, you can talk about from a schedule point of view of managing teaching and coaching or just coaching in itself. What’s a big challenge that you’ve faced over the last few years since the Enhanced Football’s been released? And what did you learn from that?
Ben: I suppose, the challenge with the balance of teaching and the Enhanced Football. At the moment, there is potential there that we could make this into a full-time type of thing during the day, but it is a little bit hard because kids are at school. And that’s where most of my clients are, in that 10 to 18 region. So, probably the challenge is how to engage people during those times. And I suppose that’s that online stuff, building that. But there’s nothing like face-to-face, as you know, Jack. In your industry the same, isn’t it?
So, the challenge of that, of scheduling in with the teaching and the Enhanced Football is constant. But it’s just finding the right staff and all of those things that all business owners got their challenges with. And what was the other one, mate?
Jack: Or even just from a coaching perspective, you could reframe the question in, what’s been the biggest learning you’ve had over the last few years? I guess, if you’re talking about yourself, three years ago sort of thing.
Ben: Probably one of my strengths was that I really do try to get to know the athletes first. Because I think, if they don’t trust in you and if they don’t value and respect you and all of those things that take time, the message probably doesn’t sink in enough. I thought I was really good at it three years ago, but I reckon, I’m much, much better now. Just got to get to know them. And it’s again, same in your industry. Once you really get to know them, and you don’t always have to ask questions about football and kicking. Just talk to them, get to know them, and then you’re gonna see much, much better results as the weeks go on. So, that’d be my main sort of a little bit of growth through there.
And I guess probably one of the other ones that coaches feel and I feel, when you get bigger groups, the challenge is that differentiation of, you know, we’ve got all different levels of footballers. We want to challenge the top end. We want to push the bottom end to try and improve. And we don’t want the top end to get bored. All those types of things. It’s one of the main questions coaches asked me, and it’s still one that I find, particularly at junior level, is probably the hardest thing to deal with, is how do we cater for such a wide variety of different learning styles and stages of learning. So, it’s a tough one.
Jack: Yeah. That’s a good topic of discussion for the coaches. What are some actionable tips that you found useful to help, like you said, keep the best kickers still engaged and getting something out of it, the ones that maybe are lacking confidence or new to the sport and aren’t as skilled and making sure that they’ve got a focus area, and then the middle tier as well? So, like I said, there’re three different tiers where they’re headed. How do you tackle that?
Ben: It’s one that at a club level, which there might be coaches listening, that is hard. Like you don’t want to always just group your top six players together. Cause that can cause some issues with culture and confidence and things like that around the club. And it’s also important to note that, it’s important that the better players are mixed in with your middlers, or your lesser players, because they’re gonna learn by watching and feeling and seeing what they’re doing as well.
So, I just think you’ve got to mix it up. You’ve got to give the top end players a chance to mix with each other. But you just gotta be flexible and put a bit of variety in there, I suppose. That’d be my advice.
Jack: And what about from the digital side of things for those that do have a digital business. You mentioned the impact it can have by knowing your athletes, having that connection, that rapport. I work remotely as well with athletes and, I guess, this is probably a selfish question that I’m asking you, but you work with digital products where you might not see the athletes. What are some ways that you go about building that relationship with the athletes that are following your app? You might not see them. They might not be booking private sessions either on Zoom. What would be some ways to try and build that sort of connection, do you think?
Ben: It is really hard. We’re using a platform called MaxOne. It’s an American platform that they use in the college system over there. And I suppose the only way, and I’ve got a lot of clients that I haven’t actually had a face-to-face chat like this. But we’ve got a service within the app where we’re constantly messaging them, asking for updates, seeing if they need more support, anything like that. And some get back to you. So, I’m happy just going along, cause it’s quite interactive, as your stuff would be. But yeah, it is hard, isn’t it? It’s a hard one. As long as you’re just communicating as much as you can, offering support, some will take it up, but some are happy just to go on their own journey.
Jack: It’s a good point. I guess, at the end of the day, if they’ve got a good platform. Like you said, their main purpose is structure and direction, and if the videos are doing the job, then they’re getting that service, then they’re happy. It is a bit different probably to them, more than face-to-face element. Is that how you sort of say it?
Ben: Yeah, it is. But it’s just something that I think it’s important to have for any of the business owners. It’s an important thing to have an online program, I think, as your offering. And it does take a lot of time, doesn’t it, Jack? With all the videos, the planning of the programs. But once it’s in place, it can go along pretty well. We’re pretty happy with the progress of it. Check out MaxOne platform, if any other businesses want to look at that as well, cause I’ve been pretty impressed with their process and their communication throughout as well.
Jack: We’ll add the link to show notes. Check it out. What about the content creation side of things? You haven’t mentioned a marketing sort of background. So, you mentioned you’ve learned it on the go. You’ve done a good job of it. I saw your recent post today, 2000 followers on YouTube, which is awesome and strong Instagram following as well.
So, how much structure is there? Do you have like a schedule that you upload which is themes based? Is it more fluid? Talk us through your sort of process as well.
Ben: Yeah, no real structure. We just try to be really consistent on Instagram. We were really focused on YouTube early, so that gathered a fair bit of momentum. And probably in the last 12 months Instagram has been our major focus. A lot of the feedback we get is that people like it, because it’s continual, it’s constant, it’s always there and there’re always helpful things.
As you know, it does take time. I still do it all myself at the moment because I find it’s such specific information that I’m trying to educate people, that I potentially could get others to help, but I want it to be really meaningful and valuable for our followers. And that’s sort of the feedback we’re getting.
I don’t really have the marketing background, but I’m learning as we go. And if anyone’s got any tips and how we can improve or get better, I’d love to listen and hear as well. I enjoy it, do you enjoy that sort of stuff?
Jack: Yeah. Well, it’s a steep learning curve, isn’t it? Because I didn’t even have Instagram two maybe two and a bit years ago.
Ben: Me neither. Facebook, that’s it.
Jack: Old school, Facebook. I reckon, Myspace was my prime.
Ben: I liked Myspace.
Jack: Pick your song.
Ben: Yeah, my song was ‘That’s the Thing About Football’. Geez, I loved that. That was my song at Myspace, I loved it.
Jack: Bring it back, mate.
Ben: Yeah, bring it back.
Jack: We get into a lot of stuff on the podcast, mate. It’s good to have fun with these, but it’s better to get to know Ben Stanley. So, first one is which movie or TV series has made the biggest impact on you? And why?
Ben: Well, I’ll just mention one that hasn’t had a huge impact, but… I’m not into car racing at all, I find it really boring. But I’ve just started watching the F1 series on Netflix. And I think there’s been about four seasons. So, I bet, it’s about 2017 and 2018 at the moment. But it’s fantastic. I’m into it now. Like looking at Daniel Ricciardo’s journey from Red Bull changing teams, and it just gives you a really good insight into a different sport completely. And the money involved, it’s phenomenal. I’ll recommend that one.
But I do like documentaries, anything about Michael Jordan’s curving bribes. I get sucked into it pretty quick. Yeah, so have a look at that one. Check that F1 one out.
Jack: I’ll check it out. I’m in the same boat. It’s not a sport I’m aware of or have had much experience in, but it’d be good to just have that eye-opening experience and you do value something when you’ve got a better understanding of it. What about a favourite inspirational quote or life motto?
Ben: There’s so many, isn’t it? It’s a hard one. I think like probably the motto thing. You just gotta be yourself. And I try to be myself as much as I can. And you look at the best coaches in the industry right now, like Chris Fagan and things like that. He’s just himself, isn’t he? He’s not trying to be anyone else. He’s very aware of who he is. And that’s what I’m trying to be. Just not change for anyone. I am who I am.
And that’s why, again, I spoke to, just cause I was with Bell for the last few days, but I spoke to Bell about it. And I said, ‘Please, don’t you ever change. Because this is who you are and people will love it.’ Like when she gets into the media more and things like that, I just think she’s going to explode, because she’s different, she’s energetic and things like that. So, just be yourself. And let it happen.
Jack: On the flip side of that, what are your pet peeves in your work life? What makes you angry?
Ben: Oh, what makes me angry? I do get frustrated when people are not willing to adjust or change when results aren’t good. So, if I give them a kicking drill or a test or something like that, and the results are really not showing or their statistics, their kicking efficiency isn’t showing a great outcome, I get frustrated when people don’t want to try things differently to get better. And it does happen in our industry, like that happens with me and it’s very rare where you might get an athlete coming and they want help. And then you show them where their deficiencies are and where they can improve. But there’s just that reluctance there that what they’re doing is what they’ve always done and what they were taught 10 years ago. They don’t want to adjust.
And I really found that hard to believe when you had Kevin Bull on the other week, and he said how many times his Tiger Woods changed his swing. Was it six or five? So, I think there’s space. Like senior footballers around the country, if you keep getting feedback that your kicking is letting you down, do something about it, go out and find someone. There’s plenty of good people out there and then just be willing to try things and accept feedback. So, that’s sort of one for me.
Jack: That’s a good point because there is a lot of fear, especially like you mentioned with older athletes making a change. And there’s probably no bigger skill with a sport than golf. Like one of the best players ever to play the game said, ‘Change your shot.’ I think Michael Jordan changed his shot later on, like you mentioned it earlier on the podcast.
Ben: Did he?
Jack: That’s what the best athletes do.
Ben: I was working with a guy from South Australia, Maddie. And he’s now moved to Reeves*. He came to Queensland. I think he just had to move back home. He’s always been a good kick, but his coaches kept saying that it just doesn’t look fluent. And it’s something that’s held him back in going further with his footy. But no one ever gave him the answers to it. They just said, ‘Your kicking’s just not quite up to scratch, you just don’t look fluent enough.’ And he kept asking for answers and feedback, but that’s all he was getting for five years.
And then he’s got people like Choco*, who worked with him, made a difference. Then he came to see me. We made a bit of a difference. So, he’s always searching just for little ways to get better. And he would’ve taken stuff from Choco, made him better, came to us. I know exactly what we made him better with. And he does now look to me like a fluent kick, and he’s improved at the age of like 27. So, it can be done, if you want to.
Jack: Yeah, keep an open mind, right? This is COVID-free world, which we’re pretty much in now, which is great. How do you spend your day off?
Ben: Just with the family. I’ve got twins here at home. So, just your normal stuff, bike riding. People listening, if you’ve ever been up to the Sunshine Coast or you haven’t been here, I’d recommend it. It’s a beautiful part of the world. So, we’ve got lots of options: beach, we can go up to the mountains. There’s lots of options here, very outdoors. So, anything like that, and trying to go for a kick with them as much as we can. They are only six. I’ve got to calm down a little bit, but… Trying to implement that already, but they’re more interested in the bike riding and mountain climbing at the moment, I think, the little ones.
Jack: That’s good fun. What about your favorite holiday destination?
Ben: Although it was always my dream to go to America, and I went there after school and just traveled, watching the NBA, the NFL. I just love that sort of stuff. So, I was lucky enough to go over and watch Toby Bryant, who was one of my all-time heroes, and got to see him live, and got to go to lots of NFL games. So, that was my number one place. But now with a family and that’s probably gonna be Bali, Thailand, all those types of things, Fiji.
Jack: Think back, recharge the batteries.
Ben: But again, living in Queensland we’re very, very lucky. We sometimes just take the caravan down the Cotton Tree park, which is five minutes away, and just go down there and plunk it on the beach for a while. So, that’s not bad.
Jack: Thanks for jumping on the podcast again. I enjoyed spending time with you and sharing your journey. No doubt, for developing footballers, coaches, and even those that are on the edge of whether to launch their own business or not, I think you’ve given them some inspiration to do so. Talk us through what’s on the horizon for 2022? What are you excited about?
Ben: So, I started to build our online platform. And I’m really excited to get out to more local clubs. Because the stuff online is great, but just going out to clubs and educating coaches, running team sessions for kids, for senior teams, that’s what we love doing. And that’s where we can really make a difference. So, I’m loving getting around, doing that.
At the moment most of it is here in Queensland, but probably the aim is to go a little bit more nationally. And we’re constantly getting messages from people from Melbourne, from South Australia, from Western Australia, asking if we’ve got staff in these areas. And I do have a few getting around in Melbourne and we’ve got to probably get a little bit better in that area and expand there. So, that’s probably the next step, Jack, to look a bit more nationally, I think.
Jack: Alright, awesome, mate. Well done so far and the future is bright with the Enhanced Football, so looking forward to collaborating more on that brand, mate. It’s good to be able to connect through these platforms and, like you said, to give as much content as we can to help footballers. For those that are interested in working with you, where’s the best place to hit?
Ben: Probably Instagram, because I’m always on it. Just DMs on Instagram. If you want to make it more formal, enhanced firstname.lastname@example.org.
To be honest, I probably would target teachers that have got a footy background. But interested in anyone that’s passionate really as well. So, anyone that’s passionate about educating and spreading the word and trying to help. Anyone else in relation to football, we would love to have a chat. So, that’d be it. That’d be good if we could do that.
Jack: Awesome. We’ll add the links and your email in the show notes. So, for anyone listening in the podcast world, head there and hit up that and have a chat.
Ben: You never know.
Jack: You never know. Well, thanks again, mate.
Ben: Here’s your tip for the grand final, Jack. Mens.
Jack: Melbourne. Yeah, to be honest, I would say just logically, it looks like a pretty strong squad with good management and good belief, which seems to be a big factor in finals.
What are you thinking? It’s hard to know who’s second in Brisbane. Doggies had a good win, Brisbane’s probably the second team. They’re looking strong and they’re strong at home. I think they got a busy record in the last 40 games at home.
Ben: Yeah. So, initially I threw a bit of a weed. I thought, I just threw Sydney out there early. I still think Sydney can grow, but yeah, probably, Melbourne or Brisbane. I went to watch Brisbane on last night and they do look good. And they’ve still got some strength to come back in with Eric Hipwood. So, if you get Hipwood mixed and Joe Daniher up forward. They are some three big pillars that, I reckon, could cause some damage. Be interesting, be good.
Ben: Yeah. I think I’d appreciate it really. I love what you’re doing as well, mate. Like I said, we’re learning all off each other and I think that’s the best thing. So, that’s really good.
Jack: Yeah. A hundred percent. Likewise, mate. Thanks for running.
If you tuned in late during the live show, you can watch the recording from the very start. Definitely recommend it. Ben struck some solid gems all the way through from the very beginning. We didn’t even muck around with the intro. We got straight into the good stuff. Thanks for those who tuned in from the very beginning. You can do that on our YouTube channel.
And then the podcast will be released next Tuesday on our podcast platforms where you can listen to any in the podcast directory, whatever your favorites are. Now, next live chat will be with Justin Dougherty, who’s the rehab physio therapist at the Sydney Swans. So, see you guys then. That’s 8:30 PM next Friday. See you, guys.