Club: St. Patrick’s, Wicklow
What is your role in the GCA ? : Head of Strength & Conditioning
Favourite Player / Why? Sean Cavanagh, he is a superb player, skilful, strong, athletic and a real leader on the field. He has consistently delivered for Tyrone for more than 10 years.
Favourite Team / Why? Dublin, In the current era of defensive systems they have developed a style of play that’s attacking and superb to watch. They have raised the bar for the rest of the country!
Who is your favourite Coach/Why? Jim Gavin, he appears calm and collected even in the depths of big games. Dublin’s progression underneath his management has been amazing and it is difficult to see how most counties, apart from Kerry, will compete against them. I also like to read the about the great coaches in other sports like Stuart Lancaster, John Wooden, Vince Lombardi and Pat Lam who had or have amazing careers in different sports.
What rule would you change in the GAA? I wouldn’t change much on the field as I think we have a super product at the minute but if I had the ability to alter something it would be the way the financial support is divided between the strong and weaker counties. The gap between the top and bottom is growing yearly and unless the powers that be invest in coaching and support for clubs within the so called weaker counties in may never close.
What would you say to Players/Clubs to encourage them to be part of the GCA? Wicklow GAA coaching has progressively improved the standards since the creating of the GCA a few years ago, there is an excellent platform available for all players to develop so if I could give any player a message it would be along the lines of – ‘If you want to improve then sign up and take advantage of what is available!!!’
How do you as a coach prepare for a session? Gym work is all about consist programming, we try to plan age specific work outs for each squad. I need to know who I’m training, how long we have them for and what they’ve done previously. We then discuss what plans management may have in the coming days/weeks regarding targets, matches or field work and we try design a plan to take all these things into consideration.
Why is it important to plan your coaching sessions? It’s very important to monitor training load especially when it comes to gym work. If we record, measure and plan our sessions week to week it allows us to ensure that we are progressively increasing the training load on our players, which when done correctly will lead to positive adaptation. It’s also vital we know what is on the horizon for our teams, if there is a competition or championship game we will aim to peak on those days therefore we will alter training to ensure players are fresh and in the best condition when it matters most.
What is your Coaching ambition? I’d love to develop the performance branch of the GCA into a strong and successful player development system. We currently have great coaches like Paul Miley, Conor Parsons & Bryan Doyle volunteering their expertise with the academy squads but if we could develop a programme where these coaches were employed by the county board and could focus all their attention we could design and implement a programme of Long Term Athlete Development that could improve the detail of care and attention to each squad and the club coaches – it would be superb!
What advice would you give to young players? Challenge yourself to try improve all the time, regardless of ability we can all improve so try find you weakness focus on them and your performances will improve.
What are your Coaching Qualifications? I have a BA in Athletic Strength & Conditioning, Diploma in Sports Psychology, IAWLA Level 1, Level 1 GAA Certificate & and I’ve also compete numerous other certs and courses.
Why did you get involved with the GCA?
I played with Wicklow from u14 through to Senior and loved it, since I had to retire early due to injury coaching was the natural progression for me.
Where do Wicklow need to improve? I believe club coaches need to engage more with county management to ensure we all have the best players available to our squads. Club coaches need to continually upskill to improve overall standard of coaching and then in turn the standard of the players around our counties.
What was the first team you coached?
The U16 academy Squad in 2010 and while it was enjoyable it opened my eyes up to how much work goes into session planning. I didn’t know
What qualities do you look for in a player to become a GCA squad member?
Dedication and a willingness to learn, I don’t care about what ability you may have; whether you are the next Diarmuid Connolly or a Junior B stalwart in the making, if you have an interest in trying to improve I will give you 100% support in any way I can!
Outline your coaching Philosophy:
My philosophy on coaching would ‘Master the basics first’, too often in the field and gym we want to try do what the best teams or athletes are doing when it is far ahead of our ability. If we master the basic’s in either Skills or Movement, it can lay a big foundation for development in the future.
Why is it important to regularly update your Knowledge/Qualifications?
GAA coaching and performance development has recently advanced to near professional standards therefore we must try to develop our knowledge to ensure we are continually improving. There are amazing resources available now for all coaches so if we can regularly try add a little to our portfolio it should certainly help the players we coach.