After reports that a 67 year old man lined out at corner forward in a Gaelic football match in Roscommon recently, there have been reports of men all around the country coming out of retirement, so this article is for them!
We all know that as we approach the twilight years of a GAA career the recovery process slows down, and sometimes the body does not want to sustain a full 60 minutes. However, there are great examples of people like Tony Browne who played into his 40 at the highest level for Waterford. GAA Strength and Conditioning can play a huge part in keeping you in the game. In this article, I want to give some guidelines to the players who feel like they are approaching their last few seasons, but that there is plenty of life in the old dog yet! SO here we go!
Whether you are a seasoned gym trainer or not, in the later stages of your playing career, training right in the gym becomes more important that ever. Whereas before you could have rocked up to the gym, lashed out a few bicep curls and a bit of bench press and left feeling like a champ, now you must train in the gym with keeping your body in full working order in mind. Focused strength training twice per week is key. Hit big exercises like step ups, chin ups, press, ups, and single leg deadlift variations for the hamstrings, as well as some well selected core work. These sessions are going to act as the glue that holds your body together through thick and thin, and allow you to play full games to your hearts content.
Saving the mileage
The tendency can be there for the older player to do MORE training than everyone else to try to turn back the clock and keep up with the young guns coming through. This is one of those cases where LESS is always MORE. If you are still togging off for the local team or the county team even, presumably its because you want to play games, and enjoy being part of a team. Therefore you priority is to have the body right for playing games, not exhausting yourself with lots of extra runs during training. Save the miles that are in the legs for game time, and chose the times that you hit the conditioning hard in training wisely. DO it when you are full y recovered and you feel like you can do it without impacting on the performance in the next game. Instead of dong the ling runs all the time with the team, spend more time on your skills. This will save the legs, and also improve your efficiency and craft on the field. Win Win!
Spend Quality Time on the Risk Areas
So you want to make it through a couple more seasons. Answer this question. What is the thing that will most likely stop you from doing that? I can tell you with much certainty that the thing that is most likely to keep you out of the game is an injury. Moreover, the biggest area that you have for injury is that area that you have injured before. If you are forever tearing your hamstring or dislocating your shoulder, then they are the key risk areas fro you. They are the grim reaper of your playing career knocking on the door. Failure to take meaningful action on this point will mean watching from the stands. Spend real time, quality time addressing the key risk areas EVERY SINGLE TIME you train. Have a small bank of prehab/ rehab exercises for each areas that is at risk, and spend 10-20 minutes of each training session working on them. Before training is the best time to do this.
Ní thagann Ciall Roimh Aois/ Sense does not precede age
This proverb should be your guiding star for the later stages of your GAA playing career. Recklessness is not your friend when you want to play games week in and week out. Go into the season with a sensible approach that will allow you to play as many games as possible, recover well, and enjoy a long and prosperous season. Here are some key points that you should consider if you are in and around the 35 mark! Eat well, sleep at least 8 hours per night, and if you want to do extra speed work etc., do it in conjunction with your team sessions so you don’t have to go and warm up etc. all over again.
- Less is More
- Spend time working on your skills
- Save the mileage for the games
- 10-20 minutes every session working on the risk areas
- 2 strength training sessions per week
- For extra speed work, tag some sprints onto your team sessions
- Make sure you are getting your nutrition right
- Get expert advice on your training
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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