THIS is a funny time of the year for GAA players. In January there’s an intersection of seasons clashing, where players are pulled from pillar to post with the expectations of where they’re at physically.
Are you kicking county ball, a few games into the McKenna Cup and beginning to sharpen up for the league?
Maybe you’re playing ball for your University, competing in the Sigerson Cup and expected to be absolutely flying so you can take home the biggest prize in higher education football?
Or, like the majority perhaps you’re a club player who’s pre-season is just starting to take shape? It’s not uncommon for players to have been in each of these positions, certainly college and club anyway.
So if you’re flying in January, is it reasonable to expect that you’ll still be at the peak of your powers come the business end of the club championships in September/October?
This is going to come down to a few things, number one being your personal priorities.
The club versus college row is nothing new, so who YOU put number one is up to you. For me, the team you’re actually playing ball with regularly is the team who gets preference.
At the end of the day all the hard graft you’re putting in training is to improve your performances on the pitch, therefore whoever you’re getting the chance to pull the jersey on for regularly should be getting your energy and attention.
It’s unrealistic for the majority of players to think that you can stay in top physical condition all year round.
There will be some outliers who can, and that is a level we should all be striving toward.
They’ve maximised the windows throughout the year where they can build upon their strength and power and then made sure to maintain it throughout the season with continued gym sessions, injury prevention work and keeping their effort levels high in whatever they’re doing.
If you’re a club manager and you’ve players who aren’t currently involved in your pre-season plans because of college or county commitments, let them at it as long as they know that when it comes to the time of the year when they’re pulling on their club jersey that your minimum expectations are that they’re at the same level as all the guys who have put the effort in to following the club training schedule.
And if you’re a player who is in the midst of crossover seasons you need to speak to the manager of the team you’re NOT playing games with and reassure them that you’re managing your training load so that you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with them when the time comes.
Don’t try and be a hero on both teams, spread yourself too thin and end up picking up some very avoidable soft tissue injury brought on from fatigue from an overload of training and a lack of recovery.
Enjoy your football, regardless of who you’re playing for – and train smart so that you can enjoy your football all year long!
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