LISTEN: Why Gemma Houghton needs to make mistakes


HOW DO high-performance elements impact a team on game day?

Fremantle’s AFLW coach Trent Cooper joined The Inside Game podcast to share his approach to coaching.

Speaking with fellow AFLW coach Bec Goddard, Cooper said his guiding principle was to help his players play with freedom.

“We still have to be careful that we let them play on instinct, and encourage instinct,” Cooper said.

“And that’s to do with feedback.


“When I was giving feedback to a young boy, I could show him nine bad clips and one good clip, and he’d walk out of the room going ‘how good was that mark’, but I find that talking to a young female athlete, I could show nine good clips and one with room for improvement and she’ll walk out stressed about that one where she didn’t do the right thing.

“So we have to make sure that we’re really encouraging of that instinct.”

Cooper said he also encouraged his players to make mistakes on the field.

“Mistakes are fine in football,” he said.

“I always say to Gemma Houghton before each game ‘at least four mistakes’. That gives her the mindset to be free and go out there.

“We play a game with an odd-shaped ball that bounces everywhere, there’s mistakes all over the park.

“We have to encourage that, and [ensure the players] don’t dwell on that.

“The more mistakes you make, the more good things you’re likely to be doing.”

Fremantle star Gemma Houghton celebrates a goal during the round six clash with West Coast at Optus Stadium on March 7, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Cooper said most of the work is done before the players even take to the field on game day.

“We’re working harder on our mindset this year,” he said.

“It’s so much more the work we do during the week, it’s making sure the players are in the right mindset to perform.

“I only really use three or four players who I think can change the course of the game.

“That’s normally the wings, with different structures, but the rest, we just want them to be in the moment and playing their best.”

Listen to the podcast to hear how all the high-performance elements impact the Fremantle AFLW team, and the other AFLW team Trent finds it hard to coach against.

The Inside Game: The difference between female and male athletes

35:09 Dec 20. 2021. 3:45 PM

Fremantle's AFLW coach Trent Cooper joins The Inside Game

This week’s episode guide…

3:18 – What it was like taking the reins at Freo

4:48 – How Trent started coaching

6:57 – Why coaching women is different to coaching men

11:40 – What does a head coach actually do?

16:25 – How do high performance elements impact game plan?

18:53 – How the Dockers work on their game deficiencies

23:00 – How integrated are Fremantle’s AFL and AFLW teams?

24:50 – Why Freo changed captains for 2022

27:00 – How to create more opportunities for female coaches

31:30 - Takeaway Tips, fuelled by the John West Protein+ range

33:20 – Quick Hands: Biggest pest at Freo, favourite pump-up song

'The Inside Game' is a new podcast series that takes a peek behind the scenes of the high-performance world of the AFL and AFLW. Join AFLW Premiership Coach Bec Goddard as she chats with high-performance experts who share the one-percenters that make the difference between an average day and a great day, fuelled by the John West Protein+ range.