FORMER defender Brooke Patterson is eager to make the most of her new opportunity on Melbourne’s 2020 AFLW coaching panel.
Returning to the red and blue in a development role, Patterson has been working closely with the club’s first-year players, sharing experiences from her three-year career – an approach she sees great benefit in.
“I’m not responsible for any area on the field or anything, but my main focus is looking after the first-year players – they’re either new to the game or new to the club,” she told Melbourne Media.
“I guess I have had three years of experience and knowledge of the game style, and how we want to play as a club, so that’s obviously an advantage.
“I also already have existing relationships with the players. I know their strengths on and off the field, so I think that will help make a smooth transition, and really add value to all of the players on the team.”
Patterson is the first former Demon to join Melbourne’s women’s program, having remained heavily involved since being delisted in the off-season.
But after initially struggling with the player-to-coach transition, the 30-year-old is confident of fully assimilating into her new role.
“You’re so used to coming in as a player that you kind of almost gravitate towards that routine and you gravitate towards the players a lot,” Patterson said.
“I’ve found it a little bit tricky just getting that balance; still keeping those relationships going with the players, because I think that’s important, but also taking a step back as you can’t be carrying on and bantering all the time.
“But it’s been great so far, and I knew that I would love doing the coaching stuff and staying involved just as much as playing.”
While not having an assigned role on the training track or on game day, Patterson is keen to soak up as much experience as she can.
In addition to running weekly sessions with the first-year players, she has also been keeping an eye on defensive coach Pat McKenna, in a bid to fast track her coaching knowledge.
“I think working one-on-one with the first-year players is a good way to start off,” Patterson said.
“You can just really focus on looking at them during training, looking at their vision, and then practicing how to communicate that to them in a very simple and clear way.
“On top of that, I’ve been shadowing Pat in the backline, as that’s where I played.
“That’s just about getting an idea of designing drills, what works and what doesn’t, and just learning from watching.”
And to date, the experience has been both eye-opening and rewarding for Patterson.
“You see how much really goes into the planning of the training,” she said.
“There’s so much time and effort that the coaches put into it, so it makes me appreciate the last three years even more.”