It’s one thing for the players to be kicking their heels in lockdown, struggling to find motivation, getting bored of running, feeling like they’ve no idea where their fitness levels are because their usual barometer – the men and women they train with and play against week in, week out, aren’t there to compare against – but there’s another group of people who are feeling the strain of the lack of GAA, and worse again the thought that there it might not be returning any time soon – the coaches.
I was talking to a club coach I ran into during the week – social distancing maintained throughout of course – and I asked him what way things where going with all the lads, and if he was even still involved with them. He was, and his head was wrecked. He’s been in the management game for almost a decade, and through Championship victories and relegation battles he has said the last three months of NOT playing any football has been the most difficult he’s had to face.
It’s the uncertainty. The lack of direction. The inability to answer the questions of the players. And the thing is, every single coach out there is in the same boat. They’re trying to keep their players engaged. They want to keep them fit, them want to make sure that whenever the news does drop of the reopening of pitches they aren’t looking at 27 hamstring tears in the first five minutes of a kicking drill.
He asked me what I thought of it all, and as someone as in the dark as everyone else I told him he answered his own question. Whatever you’re telling your players now it has to be that once they do come back together – and they will at some point no matter how far away it might seem – is that they have to be making sure above all else that they aren’t going to pick up very avoidable soft tissue injuries with the return to play.
At the weekend sports fans all over the world where glued to The Bundesliga as we welcomed football back on our screens. Even there, professional soccer where the lads had been back training for a month in preparation for the league to restart there where eight soft tissue injuries across Saturday’s six games. That’s an incredibly high percentage, and if it were applied down to all the GAA club games – amateur athletes without the luxuries of the pros – it spells disaster.
But, we can do something about that if we’re proactive NOW. If you’re maintaining your injury prevention exercises. If you’re throwing in some high intensity work to your runs, changing direction and not just doing straight lines, working under fatigue and not just taking breaks when you’re feeling out of puff. If you’re consistent with your mobility work, doing yoga or pilates or whatever you can to ensure you are able to handle the demands of a return to the pitch!
ps. If you are watching the Bundesliga to get your football fix, join me on the Borussia Mönchengladbach table, it’s where all the cool kids are hanging out.
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