TIME… There is only so much of it OR there is so much of it …

When you are involved in clubs, organisations or teams you are always looking to get people involved, volunteers, spread the workload so to speak. Many people use the excuse “I wouldn’t have the time” to avoid taking on a job or a role. If there is one thing COVID-19 has taught us, it is that there is plenty of time and people should more than appreciate filling that time in the future.

It is really down to understanding, time and what you do with your available time. When you put your time down on paper you will really wonder what you do with your time. The numbers are important. Time is precious, there is plenty of it but use it wisely and productively in work, rest and play. 

Have a look at my little video show from a coaching workshop I’m designing which shows players or anyone for that matter how much time they can actually put into practicing per week or into their hobbies in general while still doing the necessities and having a good time. 

Please feel free to comment your thoughts if you think I have left anything out or if times are unfair.

Best watched in full screen with sound



Coaching GAA is infinite learning process. Be it hurling, football or Camogie, like the top players, the top coaches or managers are always striving for perfection. Having coached and managed in all codes, club and county at all levels over the years, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that things are entirely different now to be successful as compared to even a decade ago. Everyone is looking for that little edge. That slight advantage that will tilt the balance of success in favour of their team. In this first GAA coaching blog, I open up for discussion what has evolved over the last four decades in club coaching with a key focus on what I believe in principle are the ingredients of a good adult club “training” session.

Back In the seventies, a typical club training session consisted of lads hitting the ball (often just A ball) to each other until everyone was ready. Then two lads would pick teams for a match or something unscientific like throw the hurl’s in and randomly divide, often ending up with two crazy uneven teams. Play continued until lads got tired of it and then headed to the pub if it was open.  If fitness was required, a few laps of the field. The more fitness needed, the more laps. It was rare that science was used. Over the years the concept of drills, drills with cones, drills with more cones, warm ups and warm downs, stretching exercises, core stability building and nutrition added to the evolving science of the club training session. Science and now mental preparation are the main advantages pursued.  The better you are at these the better your chances of success.

Now the majority of club players who are serious about their sport put in the time and they have to if they want to be part of a successful team. Each individual is an important cog in a team and indeed a squad as the more lads pushing hard in the squad, the greater the encouragement from within. They practice the skills on their own. They go to the gym or do their own fitness training. They take care of their own nutrition.  The top players even at club level are way more educated on what is required than their predecessors.  Therefore, as a coach or manager you have to decide how best to make use of the short time you have with the players. And it is short. At best you will do two training sessions a week of about 90 minutes. When you take out the mandatory warm up and cool down, that leaves at best, 2 hours per week or 1% of the week to work with the players themselves as a group. Very little when you consider it is a team sport. So as coach/manager you have to use that time efficiently for the greatest gain of the team in a competitive sport.  That means trusting your players to do the individual work themselves. That is the culture than underpins success.

The themes of Team, Enjoyment and Competitive are key. Those 2 hours must be about the team, must be competitive and must be enjoyable. It is their hobby too. Therefore, there is little or no room for the circus act of cone to cone drills in group sessions for adults. Anyone could take part in these, even me!  They are adults and need to be treated as such.  Surely they all know how to rise the ball, catch it and strike it, etc. at this stage.  If you are still teaching adults the basics, you are in real big trouble. The level of how good depends on their own commitment to their own practice and each will be different so a general drill rarely helps the majority of players. You would be lucky if 2 or 3 gain from any single general drill.

The focus of the group session must be about how the team works together, the game plans (note plural), understanding what their team mate can do. Becoming aware of the strengths and weaknesses of their team mates so that together they can perform to the optimum level.  There must be enjoyment and people play the sport which they enjoy and GAA sport is in the form of team matches.  So matches must play a huge part in the group session.  Those matches should be competitive. There must be a score, a result and an aim to win. There must be an incentive to win for the individual match and for the overall. This is where Training Leagues play their part.

These are the components that make the session competitive. That’s what makes your team competitive. That’s what will bring the intensity to your training session which becomes the sandbox for your match day performances.

As an example, your 90 minute session for hurling could be something like this.

  • 20 minute warm up incorporating all the main ball skills and dynamic stretching.
  • 20 minute team play development (tactics) which covers things such as puck out strategy and includes physical replication.
  • 40 minute match – Vary teams, score matters, league points allocated.
  • 10 Minute cool down

That’s an example in its simplicity though each component does require a level of detail and planning and should not be over repetitive. The challenge is to make sure the match incorporates the team play development in practical terms. Even adults look forward to the training match. Imagine the enthusiasm of the players to turn up if they knew every session would have 50% match and that match would be competitive and matter.

“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” Babe Ruth

In general what you are doing is combining the individual skills learned by each player in their juvenile development years into more powerful concoction as a group. Putting the pieces of the jigsaw in the right places and making them perform together and better. Together Everyone Achieves More! This is just an overview at a high level but hopefully, you get the gist and understand the concept. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or just to make a comment.







My eldest daughter Jennifer received her degree in PE & Biology at a ceremony in DCU recently. There is a great sense of achievement for the family to bring a child through the education system for them to achieve their goals in life. It was great for the family, her grannies and her godmother to get together afterwards to celebrate a huge milestone in all our lives.  I have no doubt as Jennifer starts her career in Dungarvan College; she will continue to be successful. The area I am interested in most, is her role as a PE teacher. There is no doubt she will offer her pupils every opportunity to develop a physical sport that is suitable for them.  Like me, she is very passionate about it.

Nowadays we see so many older people out running, cycling, swimming, playing tennis, even doing walking football. Gealic4Mothers & Others is a prime example of people returning to sport and enjoying it. Many of these people have come to physical sport late in life. Many did do sport when they were very young but like a lot of people, they gave it up at an early age. A lot earlier than they had to or should have.  Its very hard to turn back and do all those sports you could have but there are still opportunities ahead. I honestly, believe that they all regret the decision to end their youthful sports participation now as they get so much enjoyment and health benefits from their chosen activity.  It may be a reason why people think they have to push their child in multiple sports when for some, one done well would suffice. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could transfer the knowledge these older people got from their experiences to our younger generations so as they wouldn’t make the same mistakes and quit activities and sports early.

Wouldn’t it be great if our politicians could really see the benefits of sport and physical activity to young people and our health systems rather than just appearing in the best seats in the stadia on big event days!  We need sport and physical activity to be a huge part of our pre-school and primary education.  We need teachers in those schools who are passionate about sport and physical activity. We must have passionate teachers of PE at all levels of our education system. We need the facilities to be available and we need an end to the school bans on running in the playgrounds and if that means legislation to call halt to stupid threatened lawsuits, so be it! There’s a referendum that might be worth having. Banning stupid lawsuits for kids falling over in the playground! That’s another part of growing up, that is being ruined by the PC brigade. On top of that we need the availability of PE as a subject and an exam subject in all secondary schools, especially with more and more sports creating a professional level.  When all that has been achieved then the politicians will have earned the best seats in the house and that includes our President. I don’t recall PE getting a mention in any presidential election debates by any candidate in the recent campaign!  Many politicians are quick to complain about the health services, but not so quick to promote PE as a means to reduce the workload on our health services!

The sports sector delivers value for money and identifiable returns on investment for Government funds. A report on sport in Ireland (commissioned by the Irish Spots Council) from 2008, stated that on a total state investment of €618.3 million, the Exchequer received €922.7 million in taxes generated by the sports sector. For every €100 investment by the Government, it received €149 in sports related taxes. The financial benefits for the Exchequer through increased economic activity and reduced health service costs are enormous. Listen up Politicians!

Physical education prepares children to be physically and mentally active, fit and healthy for life.  The benefits include

  • Improved physical fitness, skill and motor skills development
  • Provides regular, healthful physical activity
  • Teaches self-discipline
  • Facilitates development of student responsibility for health and fitness
  • Influences moral development and leadership
  • Stress reduction by way of releasing tension and anxiety
  • Strengthens peer relationships
  • Can improve self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Helps you respect your body, classmates and teammates
  • Experience in setting goals
  • Improved academics

The World Health Organisation recommendations in order to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, and cardiovascular and metabolic health biomarkers says;

  • Children and youths aged 5–17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.
  • Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits.
  • Most of the daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.

As a GAA coach we often hear parents saying their child is doing too much.  I wonder are they really? Are they really fulfilling the daily recommendations?  In my experience most of them, think they are but are not. Is it more a case that the parent is tired of driving to training sessions every night of the week?  Do not use your apathy to restrict your child’s opportunity of physical activity, especially in a team environment among their friends and peers who can be great encouragement.  Many GAA grounds now have walk paths which can allow you to get your physical exercise in while maybe a chat with other parent friends with a comfortable underfoot. You get the same healthy benefits as your child and you set a huge positive example of the importance of physical activity.   I would encourage everyone to push the physical education and participation in sport agenda. There is something for everyone and every ability. No more excuses!