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Coaching Corner - Preparation Makes Perfect 2015-09-07 17:23:00

Coaching Corner Number 2


Barry Dunne | @darrybunne | Waterford Coaching and Games Development


We’ve all been there. Things ran late at work and you got to the pitch at 6:59 for a 7:00 training session. The players are early (for once!) and they are standing around waiting patiently for you to dispense your wisdom for an hour or so. But you never planned your session, you have no one helping you this evening and the gear is still in the store room. The water bottles are unfilled and you’re not even sure if there are sliotars in the boot of the car. Panic stations!


The above is a nightmare scenario for any coach. Following on from our last article, we’ll say you've volunteered to help out with one of your local club teams and you’ve done some coaching courses to prepare you. But this is one of your first proper training sessions and you forgot to prepare a training session plan. Disaster!


The single best piece of advice any new coach can take on board above everything else is to try to be prepared. It's an old cliché but it's so relevant to everything that you do as a coach. Whether it's a match, a training session, a coaching course or just a meeting with the players, it's really,really important that you are on top of things and that you are prepared for almost all eventualities.


A few years ago I was involved with a team and we were playing an important challenge match before hurling championship. It was really important that things went well that night and I wanted to make sure everything ran well and that the game was of benefit to us. We called the lads in to the dressing room before the game, went through our tactics and named the team. ‘Right lads, put on the jerseys as quick as you can and we’ll get out.’ The lads stood up, ready for action. They looked pumped as they waited. ‘Ehmmmm, where are the jerseys?’asked one of the players. In the excitement, they were never brought. We'd to stall the referee for ten minutes while someone drove home to fetch the jerseys and the positive buzz was ruined. Fierce embarrassing for any management team! But it just goes to show you need to ensure that everything is accounted for in your preparation.


There are simple things you can do to make sure training sessions run smoothly. Make sure everyone on your list of players has been contacted and knows about training. The more organised you are about letting them know about training, the better the attendances will be. Don't rely on boys or girls to tell other players – contact them yourself to be sure. Make sure there is nothing clashing with training that night – development squads, soccer/rugby, school commitments. Make sure the pitch is available; if space at a GAA grounds is at a premium, a match you didn't know about can wreck your training session. A day or two before the training, have a chat with your selectors about stuff you feel the team should work on. Then put together a detailed session around what you discussed. Aim for no more than an hour long session for underage teams, maybe 70/80 minutes for adult teams. Before you leave for training, make sure you have all your gear – whistle,boots,balls,water bottles, poles, cones, first aid kit, basically anything you need for your training to run smoothly. Make up a list of equipment/gear at the start of the year and check it every time you have a match or training. Arrive at least 30 minutes before training to give yourself time to prepare and to be nice and relaxed before training starts. It will also give you a chance to talk to players about injuries or just see how they are. If you are running late for whatever reason, just make sure another selector can open the dressing rooms and set up the pitch in your absence. Then when you arrive at least you will be ready to start.


Players love to see a coach that is prepared and they will respond to it positively. It's far easier to persuade players to put in an effort if they see you putting in an effort to be organised. It takes a little bit of extra work on your behalf but it makes a huge difference to both your enjoyment of training and the players enjoyment if you are well prepared.



Twitter: @WaterfordGAACG

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