Paralysis by analysis is a common term these days, and if you want to excel in hurling or Gaelic football, you could not be faulted by not knowing where to turn when it comes to what exactly you need to do to be successful with all the information that’s out there. From strength and conditioning, to nutrition, to playing games and training, it’s a lot to take in and get right. So here are 7 things that you can bet your ass you need if you want to reach the top.
Some of us have more of it to spare than others. The main thing is that if you want to reach the top you can bet your last euro that you will not be able to do it without dedicating time to it. Work out exactly how much time you can realistically dedicate to your GAA journey each week. For some it could be 2 hours a day, and for others, it might be 3 hours per week. Once you have the time set aside, you can then start planning out what you should be doing in the allocated time slots.
Stepping into a comprehensive GAA training program without goals is like taking off from NASA head-quarters in a space rocket not really knowing where you want to go. The moon? Mars? The sun?! If you aim for nothing, you can be certain that you will get there. Once you have your big ultimate goal written down, you then need to start setting some goals to achieve along the way. Things that you know you can work towards and achieve.
3. A Plan
Once you have a good idea of what your goals are, you need to get a plan together to achieve your goals. The best types of plans are those that are easy to follow through on, and bring you all the way to your big goal. A solid plan is akin to a witch standing over he cauldron making a magic potion You need the right mix of ingredients for the potion to work. Team training, games, recovery sessions, skills training, mobility work, and tactical work. After all that, remember that plans are necessary for success, but from time to time you will have to deviate from it to accommodate that thing we can ‘life’. Unless you have a time travelling DeLoreon car, you wont be able to predict the future, so the plan needs to be flexible, and be willing to revisit it to make course corrections from time to time. You will need help with this, so sit down with an expert and start building your plan.
4. Nutrition guidelines
You need to eat for performance, and eat for health. Your nutrition plan will help you recover from training and games much better, and will give you the energy to sustain your efforts, and the mental relief that will allow you to relax after training. The best way is to follow a reasonable set of guidelines, as opposed to a strict set of rules. Luckily for you, we have already done this for you. Check out this article on eating for athletic performance.
Trying to go it alone to reach the top echelons of any sports is probably one of the biggest mistakes that you could make. You will need a support team around you to keep you on track. Key members of your support team are your family, spouse, a coach, a physio, a massage therapist, a strength and conditioning coach, and someone you can talk to about your performances in games. You don’t have to be in constant contact with your whole support team, and they don’t even need to know each other, but you should spend time to identify who they are and call on them when required from the start. Don’t forget to let them know of your goals, and that you would love to have them on board to help you get there!
Having the ambition to go all they way is a definite pre-requisite to achieving greatness in any sport. Its what will drive you to constantly learn more, and ask the right questions. It will get you out of bed in the morning, and get your ass to training early to practice your skills for 30 minutes before the rest of the team arrives. Challenge yourself, and reach to achieve a goal that you think is just beyond your reach. You might just surprise yourself!
7. An unbreakable positive attitude
Take a note of this. The plan that you made (#2), will change. You might pick up an injury, get dropped from the team, get sick, or lose your mojo for a while. You can get over all of these obstacles to achieve your goal if you have an unconquerable positive attitude. No matter what happens, see the opportunity to expand yourself. See things that others see as negatives as positives. If you lose a match, see it as an opportunity to identify a skill that you can improve for the next game. If you get injured, see it as a great opportunity to develop another area of your fitness/ game (see this article on breaking the cycle of chronic injury). If you get sick, see it as an opportunity to improve your nutrition and recovery when you get back so you don’t get run down again, and as a chance to read up on some inspirational sports people.
This Article is By Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS
Ainle is Owner of ACLAÍ Health and Performance, and 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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