Asking the right questions can get you very far when it comes to improving your performances as a GAA player. When it comes to athletic performance, stagnation is the enemy! Ask yourself thee questions regularly to make sure you are moving in the right direction
What is my long-term goal?
If you aim for nothing you will definitely hit it. Stretch yourself and pick a goal that will challenge you to improve. It can be months or years down the line, and should represent the pinnacle of your sporting career. Having a worthwhile goal will really drive you to excellence and give you direction with your training. It might be to win a personal award, make the senior team, or get a place on the first 15 of a county team.
Am I on course to achieve my long-term goal?
Once you have selected your long term goal, you then need to establish if you are on the right course to achieve it. Pick short-medium term goals that you can work towards on the way to your long term goal. For example, if your goal is to make the first 15, then you could pick goals in relation to your fitness, strength, power, or scores in games to help get you there. If you ask yourself if you are on course to achieve your long term goal, and the answer is ‘No’, then its time to take action.
What can I do to get stronger?
Getting strong in the right movement patterns is one of the best things that any of us can do to improve athletic performance. Are you doing the right type of strength training, and are you doing the right type of strength training with good technique? If you are hitting the mark with your strength training, you are giving yourself a major chance to stay injury free, as well as being able to dust your opponent’s challenges off with ease.
What can I do to get faster?
Speed will get you away from your opponent, and allow you to pick up the breaks. There is no fix-all solution to getting faster. Its about finding out what is holding you back from maximizing your speed. Finding this is like realizing that you are driving with the handbrake on. When you lift the handbrake, and fix the issues that are holding you back, then you will have the yards on your marker and pick up the loose balls every time. The issues can be strength related, mobility relates, recovery related, and can also be largely connected to the type of training you are doing.
How can I improve my skills?
Skills are king. Strength and conditioning plays a massive role in preparing for hurling or football, and can give you a huge platform to work from. However, a 200kg deadlift is useless to you unless you can perform the skills of the game. When it comes to championship season, lose yourself in learning the skill of the game on a deeper level. Break them down, do them slowly, and do them fast. Do them under pressure, and practice them often. As I mentioned before in this article, getting the right mix of training components is like a witch building a potion. You need the right ingredients, in the right amount, and at the right time for the option to work successfully.
What can I do to recover faster?
If skills are king, and matches are where you have the opportunity to showcase your skills, then recovery is the thing that will allow you to be fresh enough to showcase your skills to the best of your ability. Have a look at your recover immediately after training and matches, and also the next day. What recovery tools do you have at your disposal? Foam roller? Hydration? Ice bath? Epsom slats bath? Dip in the sea? Stretching? Compression? Think about the ones that you can easily integrate into your routines and go for them first. If there is one thing we can do more of in the GAA, its improving our recovery.
This Article is by ACLAÍ Owner, Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS. Ainle is strength and conditioning coach for the Cork Senior Football team, has worked with Adelaide Crows Football Club in Australia, lectured in the University of Limerick PE and Sports Science Department, contributed to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, and also works as a tutor with Strength and Conditioning Institute, Setanta College.
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