‘Never done it before’: How a stress ball helped ’frustrated’ coach save Giants’ season

GWS Giants coach Adam Kingsley has opened up on needing to “settle down a bit” as he quickly adjusted to life as an AFL senior coach.

From sitting 4-7 and 15th on the AFL ladder at the halfway point of the season, Kingsley will lead the Giants into an Elimination Final against St Kilda at the MCG on Saturday afternoon in his first season in the hot seat at the helm of the AFL’s newest franchise.

It’s been a season full of learning curves for Kingsley, including how to best manage his own stresses and emotions in the box.

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After the opening round come-from behind win over Adelaide to get his coaching career off to a winning start, the Giants slumped to three straight losses early in the season as the frustrations of coaching became increasingly visible.

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Speaking on AFL 360, Kingsley spoke about how letting his frustrations show so openly “certainly wasn’t helping” himself or “his coaching group”.

“I was probably visibly a little bit frustrated at times in the early part of the season and I don’t think it was helping me, it certainly wasn’t helping my coaching group,” Kingsley told AFL 360.

“We probably weren’t humming on all cylinders with me in that state a little bit too often.”

Kingsley was snapped in the early rounds with a stress ball in the coaches’ box as a means to help relieve some of the tension.

In what quickly became an association with the freshest senior coach on the block, Kingsley revealing that introduction of the stress ball to his kit bag, coupled with his shift down to coaching from the interchange bench allowed him to “refocus my attention”.

It proved to be a fruitful move which sparked the Giants seven game winning run and secure an unexpected finals spot.

“The stress ball was largely around refocusing my attention onto what’s important and letting go,” Kingsley said.

“Not only was that helping me but it was helping our coaching group … it certainly improved as the season progressed from the early two or three rounds”

The stress ball was helping, but Kingsley wanted to get closer to his players and see the game from their perspective.

Having never been down to the bench before throughout his coaching career, Kingsley made the move downstairs halfway through the year and the move paid dividends.

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“Moving down to the bench … I’d never done it before as a senior or as an assistant coach, so I thought I’d get down there and experience that for a little while,” he said.

“It felt like I operated a little bit better and so did the team upstairs.

“I think we reaped the rewards of that.”

While Kingsley conceded that you do “give up a little bit” by not being upstairs in the box and having a full ground view, he credited the work of development coach Jason Davenport, allowing the communication and messaging from the box to the bench to be clear and seamless.

“Having someone like Jason Davenport down on the bench for me has been fantastic,” Kingsley said.

“He’s controlling the vision so if I do want to check something … he can drag it up and I can just watch it. That allows me to talk directly to the players …. So you get that immediate feedback around what’s working and what’s not.”

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