WITH each new season springs a fresh sense of optimism and hope across all playing squads. Some teams have more to work on than others but typically January will present any management team with their highest playing participation numbers in any given season. It is irrefutable that across the entire scale of a season a manager will lose a few players that he sat off on the journey with at the turn of the year.
Players drop off for a range of reasons ranging from citing grievances about lack of or diminished game time as the season unfolds or it could be simply a case that their ‘why’ was never strong enough in the first place.
Whatever way you choose to look at it not every player is equally committed andor motivated to represent the group and often making peace with people choosing to invest their time elsewhere is the best thing to do.
What you can do as a coachmanager is to ensure that within your capabilities you have catered for and facilitated the most accomplished team set up that you can provide. Today we look at the basic pre-season requirements that club senior coaches can aspire to produce in order to serve the needs of their players to provide the best grounding for the season ahead.
In the GAA all things aren’t equal. Diversification among clubs across all counties and what they can and cannot access is vast. We are extremely fortunate at my own club to have access to a wintertime full-size flood-lit pitch with an exceptional surface and an additional 4G pitch. Add to this a fully functioning and kitted players S&C area within the clubrooms.
This however could be a world removed from the situations confronting many other coaches and players where the hunt for pitchlights and venues to house pre-season challenge games etc can be an energy consuming process. As coaches it is imperative to have the basic venue logistics for team get togethers ticked off as an immediate concern. Players will quickly pick up vibes relating to any sense of lack of organization.
Mountain runs, sand dunes, running tracks. Back-boning my own pre-season scheduling I like to keep the teams training focus on the grass. Its where we will be judged later in the year. I am not discounting the value of a weekend away and incorporating a team building style session on the beach or climbing a mountain as a recreational activity.
However, when teams base a vital block of their programming around weekly visits to anything other than the pitch to take care of their game conditioning they will almost certainly increase the risk of picking up avoidable soft tissue injuries. When on the pitch it is also recommended that we don’t flog our players through the demands of one-paced timed runs.
Again the relevance to the game we are aspiring to play is crucial in how we plan our pre-season. Think; will 6×5 minute runs really help or hinder this teams longer term goals?
A simple rule of thumb I like to work off is to keep all running segments below 100 metres – no matter what period of the season. You can adjust distances, volume and intensities depending on the demands of a period.
These sessions should also be incorporating basic change of direction, acceleration and deceleration drills and movements.
All too often we can see the basic skills of the game neglected at early stages of the season, making way for the arduous stamina sessions. Instead we should be ensuring our players are afforded the opportunity to develop technically and tactically from the off.
One technical-based session and one pitch-conditioning session with basic overload parameters in place through the early months will allow your players to become accustomed to the increase in training load being placed on the body whilst also developing their in-game skill sets from early.
This is imperative. Players and coaches alike should be treating S&C as an essential component of GAA performance, rather than optional. Developing robust, faster more agile players must be a priority within any coaching set up. If you are not a qualified S&C coach yourself then it will serve you a huge importance to outsource the expertise of a good coach.
Not only are we aspiring to improve our players on the pitch in how they move it is also widely recognized that tailored S&C programming can reduce the soft tissue injury count among players. Remember when players stay game fit for longer the teams chances of success rise considerably.