5 Common Mistakes Made by GAA Players

1: Overtrain

The GAA player is typically raised on two types of training session. 1. Run as hard as you can, and 2. Hurl/ play football as hard and fast as you can. This quickly leads to a burning out of the energy reserves and the onset of an overtraining effect a few months into a training program. In addition, if this is how you train, you will be too tired to spend some quality time working on your skills, doing mobility work, or recovery work. In a nutshell. If you are always training at ‘100%’, you can be sure you are not improving as much as you should, and injury/ burnout are waiting around the corner for you with a baseball bat in hand to beat you with. Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin is a great book that delves into the ‘mysteries’ of worldwide talent beds in various activities from Tennis to school teaching. One consistency across all talent beds is that the champions all spent considerable amounts of time practicing their skills slowly, and sometimes even without a ball. This reinforces the motor patterns of the skills, and also allows for longer practice periods. You could practice slowly, or without a ball for hours, but you can only practice at high speed for a limited time before fatigue sets in. I think we need to approach our training a bit differently, and spend more time deep in the skills, practicing them at high speeds but also in a slow and precise manner to ingrain the pattern, and also allow for recovery from the hard sessions.

2. Neglect Mobility Work

I hold out hope that this point is on the way out, but again, popular culture in the GAA dictates that you do a bit of mobility in the warm up of training, and a quick stretch before hitting the showers, and that is the height of your mobility work for the week. This is probably the number 1 reason why I have some many young players coming in with pulled hamstrings, or a sore groin. Players need to learn the difference between using mobility exercises to warm up, and spending 15 or 20 minutes a day doing some flexibility work. Here are some mobility exercises that we use for our strength training warm ups.

3. Eat too much Pasta

For some reason or another pasta has become the staple of most peoples pre-match routine. Most people accept pasta as the gold standard of pre competition energy supply, without experimenting with other types of food, or exploring whether or not pasta is the right food for them to eat. Pasta, being made from flour, has quite a dramatic effect on blood sugar levels, and also is not easily digestible by most people, leaving them gassy and/ or bloated, neither a good feeling to carry into a game or competition! Try quinoa, cous cous, sweet potato, basmati rice, wild rice, or brown wholegrain rice for alternative sources of carbohydrate before your next training session and see how it feels compared to the routine plate of pasta.

4. Focus on Bench Press

It certainly is a positive thing that GAA players are investing some solid hours into their gym training these days, especially during the preseason. However, all gym sessions were not created equal. I see a lot of folks that are starting out with their training programs, and head straight for the bench press. The reasons for this is probably that the bench is easy to figure out (‘Lie under bar, lift bar’), and it seems like a manly exercise to do in the gym. However, in the day where most of us suffer from a kyphotic posture where the chest muscles are tight and the shoulders pointing forward, the bench press is the last thing you need. Substitute your bench press for dumbbell press, or dumbbell press on a swiss ball, and be sure to add in plenty of rowing exercises (bent over row, horizontal row, single arm row, prone row ect ect) to counter the pressing. 2 rowing exercises to 1 pressing exercise is a good ratio to work from. If you want to go to the next step, then spend time developing good upper body and lower body mobility so you can spend some time with our friends Mr Deadlift and Mr Squat (only when mobility is sufficient for perfect technique).

5. Don’t Learn from Every Game

Around March time, games start coming thick and fast for most GAA players. If you want to be on top of your game come championship time, then learning from every experience is crucial. This is an element of training that is being tapped into by most county teams, and some clubs, but few players. Getting feedback from performances is a vital element of the post game or post performance in sports and events all over the world. Its how we note what went well, and what we need to improve on. If we know what we need to improve on, then we can make an action plan for improvement. You can get feedback from the coach, a friend in the stand, from video playback, and also by making post match notes in your training diary. Here are some things you can score yourself on after a game. Score yourself out of 10, and give yourself comments on your performance. It is a good idea to consult with coaches when doing this. Find your weak points, work on them, and set a target score out of 100 for the next game.

- Workrate

- Winning Possessions

- Defensive Play

- Offensive Play

- Fitness

- Self Belief and Confidence

- Team Work

- First Touch

- DIscipline

- Reading the Game.