Linking Physical Development with Sports Performance

Recently i had the pleasure of hosting Player Development Clinic’s for under fifteen and sixteen Gaelic football players in different venues around Cork. This was for players involved with Cork underage squads.

The main theme of the Clinic was on MOVEMENT. Getting players to understand the link between mobility, movement skills and their links to football skills and decision-making.

This theme developed from experiences working with senior inter county footballers and from playing the game myself. Senior players are talented no doubt but skills deficits can still exist.

An improvement in player’s movement skills has been a strength in Dublin’s success. The ability to create space among congested blanket defence’s. The standout player in this regard has been newcomer Brian Howard whose dancing feet has created many easier scoring opportunities.

As players we all just want to play ball and have some fun. It’s important as players move through the academy model to continually create awareness of not just positive attributes but also areas for improvement.

Spending time improving hip mobility, running mechanics, or jumping ability can be boring for most. To excel though players need to realise how limitations in conditioning or athleticism may negatively affect their football performance.

To give an example it can be a defenders ability to be in an athletic stance, then suddenly retreat with the right technique followed by 180 degrees turn into a forward acceleration. This scenario can happen many times in a game.

Once player’s explored new movements, decision-making has to be introduced to ensure transfer from the training ground to match day. Can defenders select the right solution depending on the positioning of both themselves and their direct opponent? This scenario is continually changing in a game, which what makes it challenging.

The forward’s eyes are on the ball and movement is slow which cues the defender to get in a front tackle. Minutes later the forward may gain possession in space and will run hard at the defender. Can defender now move to an alternating split stance and boss the contest with the forward even though it’s the forward who is possession.

Some players naturally no doubt will already be excellent changing direction, jumping or covering ground. It’s identifying the players who are been held back by a physical limitation. Genetics will always set a limit on a player’s potential but are we getting close to these limits.

It’s not a six to eight week solution but rather a long-term plan. Due to games and training development players are restricted on what time can be spent on physical development. Therefor the only solution is to ensure frequent exposure in small doses.

To learn more contact me at 0877600658 or email me at info@pkperformance.ie

RUNNING PERFORMANCE

RUNNING PERFORMANCE

No matter what field-sport you play, be it Hurling, Gaelic Football, Hockey, Soccer, running efficiently or being fit!! is an important quality to have. Sure in any game you may have the ball in your possession or in your hands for less than 30 seconds.!! If I can repeatedly run faster and for longer I give myself a platform to take my technical and tactical skills to a higher level!!

But there is more to improving running performance than just doing fitness drills. Sometimes we do a huge volume of running drills or the wrong type of drills and the athlete breaks down injured!!!

This morning I was working with a client who wanted to improve their running performance with the aim of improving their overall sports performance.

What’s involved?
1. On Visit 1 you do a NEEDS ANALYSIS: Important to know what level the athlete is at right now specific to the game demands. Also what level is their general movement, flexibility, stability, and power. It is about individualizing the TRAINING PROCESS. I look at running mechanics, are the arms & legs moving around the body in a cyclic motion, where is foot placement?? (Video Analysis can be used to improve running technique)

On analyzing the results from the Needs Analysis a PROGRAM is designed which may include exercises the develop the following:
1. Pillar Prep: Does the athlete have sufficient mobility & stability that energy can be transferred through the body efficiently. Inefficient movement leads to decreased performance and increased risk of injury.
2. Movement Prep: using dynamic movement to re-establish mobility, stability and coordination & improve posture.
3. Plyometrics: Teaching the body to store and release energy powerfully
4. Movement Mechanics: Running is a skill! Developing the technique and power to move fast forward and multi-directional
5. Finally the actual Running drills to be performed to develop the player’s cardiovascular fitness!!
There is more to improving running than just running drills!!! It is about using a TRAINING SYSTEM and providing a BASE with the aim of maximize the athlete’s performance.

To learn more check out pkperformance.ie or email me at info@pkperformance.ie

Gift Certificate

Hi all,

Looking for the last minute christmas gift idea.  Why not avail of a Gift Certificate from PK Athlete Development & Performance.  This voucher can be for a specific service or can be left general for a specific person to choose what he or she wants to do. Services can include:

  • Fitness Assessment
  • Training Program (Injury Management, Strength & Power, Specific Fitness, Body Composition)
  • Movement Screening
  • 1 to 1 Coaching Sessions (Running Mechanics, Strength, Mobility, Fitness)

For further enquiries contact me at info@pkperformance.ie / 087 7600658

Regards,

Paudie.

Integrated Approach – Player Development

Hi,

Held an enjoyable Player Development Clinic last week for up coming football talent from West Cork. The focus was on educating players on the ‘why’ of improving your movement skills but also the ‘how’ that is done.

Playing really well is the number 1 goal for every player while maximising the performance of the individual/team is the number 1 goal for the Manger/Coach.  Therefor football preparation is the number 1 priority and rightly so.

We get frustrated though when a player is unable to tackle correctly! Tackling starts with the legs. Can your player move lateral, change direction, go from rear start to forward acceleration efficiently??

Another example, we expect our midfielder’s or full forward to field the ball in the air. Does your player know how to jump properly?

We want players to acceleration onto the ball to create an effective support running game..but do they know how to run properly?

Working on movement skills in isolation will only get you so far.  Don’t limit some players progress due to mobility/stability deficiency’s.  A player may understand the drill but unable to perform it optimally due to a lack of range motion in a certain joint!  How do you warm up?

As coach’s drills are great but do we know how to coach it properly.  Players learn in many different ways.  It’s not about providing 10 teaching points but rather selecting the right ‘cue’ which will paint a picture for the player.  This will increase chances of player performing exercise correctly.

Then it’s about integrating these movement skills with increased decision making or football skills to ensure we get training gains to transfer to game day.  Just practicing isolated drills and you will not get the performance you desire.  A player need’s to use the different movements at the right time.

A final point sometimes forgotten regards improving ‘movement’ is it’s benefits in helping reduce the risk of injury.  Poor movement can lead to compensatory movement patterns, muscle overload and subsequent strain.

Movement skills or ability is only 1 spoke in the wheel per say..but an important area none the less if a player is looking to “be the best they can be”

 

PK.

Athleticism..

Hi,

This summer i am visiting GAA clubs educating our next generation of players and coach’s on benefits of developing speed or a players physical ability.

The coaching of the game has the biggest influence on a player’s performance. Nevertheless there will always be an important role in developing a player’s athleticism or physical ability. Look at All Ireland champions Dublin, excellent footballer’s no doubt but they have the athleticism to match it! Yes genetics had a major role to play here but they are maximising their physical strength’s though good coaching. As coach’s while we can’t turn a donkey into a race horse! are we developing each player’s athletic ability??

Improving a player’s physical ability will ensure you have a greater platform to take their technical and tactical performance to a higher level. It will also make the player more robust to the training loads that they undertake and reduce the risk of injury.

No matter what field sport you play, be it Hurling, Gaelic Football, Hockey or Soccer, running efficiently is an important quality to have. Sure in any game, statistically you may have the ball in your possession or in your hands on average for only 60seconds! If you can repeatedly run faster and for longer plus have the tactical awareness of when and where to run, then you are sure to be a better player.

The progression of GPS technology has allowed researchers and coaches alike to profile the exact movements of players in a game and to determine the actual external demands on players.  For example, recent research has indicated at elite level in Gaelic Football that players perform on average 2.3 accelerations per minute with the number and distance of accelerations dependent on playing position. Midfielders performed the most accelerations with full back and full forward line performing the least. Therefore acceleration training must be included in any team’s training program.

When it comes to performing a skill of the game, most players have a strong and a weak side. Essentially players have a strong side because they practiced on that side and a weak side because they never practiced on that side! It is the same when developing a movement skill like running. They all follow the same stages of motor learning and skill development. To maximise the learning effect, you then need to be coached on how to run properly.

Yes due to genetics we all have a ceiling on how fast, fit and strong we can get but to maximize your athletic potential, just like the skills of the game, you must practice it to improve it. Unfortunately though many coaches think they are developing speed but they are not. A common scenario is where players accelerate over fifteen to twenty yards and then run back so they can get another rep as soon as possible. The players may be enjoying the drill but unless you have sufficient recovery between each sprint, each sprint will then become progressively slower to the point where you end up developing fitness or endurance rather than the intended outcome of acceleration.

A coach needs to understand that each type of training will produce a specific physiological response, known as the dose-response relationship. Basically if you want to be able to run at high speeds, you must train at high speeds!

Tackle Bags are often used in training to expose players to increased physicality and to teach them how to protect the ball in the tackle. Unfortunately though in the drills players often receive a pass and then run straight for the tackle bag. This is not due to poor decision making by the player but it is what they are being coached to do. Surprisingly this is still happening at all levels and this is not preparing players for most situations that will happen in a game. Some players have poor vision, who play the game with their head down and running at tackle bags is only adding to the problem. I would much prefer players to get their heads up, and use their pace to accelerate and attack the space. This will lead to retention of possession and possible scoring opportunities while you will still expose the player to a degree of physicality.

In the modern game with blanket defenses and strength and conditioning there are not too many players who can literally brush opponents to the side. You might wonder how players like Donegal’s Ryan McHugh  to Tyrone’s Mark Bradley thrive in the modern game?  The key like many of the Tyrone players is they play with their head up, keeps the ball out of contact and attacks the spaces. Similar to many of the All Black rugby players!!

When planning your session or looking at your players training, always ask yourself are they trying to execute what you would like them to do in a game.  Then i’m sure you will get a greater transfer from the training ground to match day.

If your interested in me calling to your club. contact me at 087 7600658 / info@pkperformance.ie

Chat Soon,

PK.

Recovery

RECOVERY seems to be the buzzword lately. Unless RECOVERY is a big part of your training program then your program isn’t cutting edge! Now this would make sense in that

WORK + REST = increased fitness or performance!!

I agree recovery is important but feel coaches/teams are too quick to emphasize techniques such Cryotherapy, Hydrotherapy, Ice Baths, Compression Tights etc…when the basics in program planning and recovery are not adhered to first by both coach’s and players.

SLEEP is the no1 recovery tool followed by nutrition and hydration. No point jumping into the ice bath unless you are getting high quality sleep, nutrition, and hydration. I think some players at all levels still under-estimate the importance of getting the basics right on a consistent basis. Now we can all have a bad nights sleep once in a while and a bit of ice of cream every now and then isn’t going to kill you!! But once you are getting the basics right the majority of the time you will be doing well. Also we all know the player who is great to down the protein shake and look the part but is a lousy trainer, you must train hard first before you even need to recover!

As coaches it is important you structure your training sessions appropriately with a variety of hard, medium, and light sessions. This will be dictated by the game schedule, whether it is pre-season or in-season and by the training readiness of your players. Get this right and your players will get the REST they have earned and you as coach will reap the benefits on the training field. Get this wrong though and players will break down with injury or illness. WORK + REST

As we understand the SCIENCE better behind the TRAINING PROCESS we realize that first we need to be clear what kind of players we are working with but also how vital it is to MONITOR the training and how the athlete is responding to the training. You may have a great plan but this may need to be tweaked depending on how the players are responding to training. A session that the coach thought was light might in fact been hard for the players. Don’t just presume it was a light session, monitor your players before, during, and after and don’t be afraid to change things during a session. This can be at first but as you get more experience it can be easier to do.

Recovery is important and the many recovery modalities available can be beneficial to the player but make sure they TRAIN HARD, TRAIN SMART and get your BASICS are right first….

PK.

Training or Coaching

COACHING PERFORMANCE
As coach’s we spend a couple of hours a week coaching our players / teams with the aim of improving their performance for the next game or improving an element of the game plan with a longer term championship game in mind.
We put responsibility on our players and demand intensity, commitment, and improvement. If we are not getting the desired results, we blame the players rather than reflecting on our own performance as COACH. You have to ask yourself are my sessions providing players with optimal environment for improvement???
Things to consider:
1. PRACTICE
During your sessions how much time are the players actively involved developing their skills or decision making? Too many players behind markers, lack of footballs/sliotars or too much time spent talking by the coach can reduce the players time to practice!! At times players can spend over half a session standing a round…
2. DRILLS OR GAMES
Yes I feel there is a time for drills to be included in a session particularly if there is a skill weakness you want to focus on and build players execution & confidence.. The majority of time should be spend using a variety of games / game scenario’s to ensure you get a greater transfer to game performance. If you are just doing drills in training then you will not get the improvement you desire..
3. TRAINING OR COACHING
It is a lot easier to run a training session than it is to run an effective coaching session. Training can be as simple as copying a few ideas off the internet, running a series of fitness / skill drills and telling players exactly what to do, start -stop on the whistle etc…Coaching though involves identifying areas for improvement from a game plus developing further things your team are doing well. Then you use different games/game scenario’s in a session and combine this with effective communication. This creates more decision making and understanding for the player = better performance!
4. COMMUNICATION
How are you communicating with your players? Do you just roar at them in the session and either give out to them or always tell them exactly what to do?? You wont be on the pitch during a game so you need to develop a players decision making and understanding. Why not question them on what they need to do or what they are doing well etc… and let them come up with the answer. If they can understand what to do, then there is a greater chance their performance in both practice and games can improve.
Like always I have made all of these mistakes myself and combined with current best practice & research I continue to develop my methods. Make sure you REFLECT on your performance so you improve your TEAMS PERFORMANCE!!T

Trip Down Under…

I had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in Auckland and Sydney last October.  I was fortunate to meet some great people who were very passionate about athlete development and high performance.  These included Dr Craig Harrison-Program Director AUT Millennium Academy, Graham Robson- High Performance Manager at High Performance Sport New Zealand and Mike Rennie Strength and Conditioning Coach at the Sydney Swans AFL team. While the time there was limited it was worth while none the less.

Performance in general fascinates me whether it be individual or team so it was interesting to see different views and ideas from people who assist high performance at different areas, levels and sports.  In AUT Millennium you see kids between 7 and 12 years of age come at 7am for their pre school athlete development sessions.  I like their program design process where they link movement to performance with the aim of greater application from the young athletes.  This was aided further by the equal emphasis on both serious training and fun in each session.

In HPSNZ the emphasis is on continual improvement, with realistic goals/targets been set.  It was interesting how they co-ordinate the different aspects of a high performance support team be it psychology, coaching, or strength and conditioning.  It is a ruthless process at the highest level in that as a coach you can do everything you to make an athlete better but that athlete might not want to get better or be the best they can be!  There comes a point then when you decide the athlete is the issue and not the program so you must get rid of that athlete and move on…

In Sydney then i got a different angle where i got an insight in the the physical preparation of a professional AFL team. I learnt plenty but at the same time it was reassuring to see Sydney Swans have some similar systems or processes to inter county training back in Ireland.  A big emphasis on movement, pre-hab, monitoring of training load and wellness but most importantly the conditioning and coaching was interlinked.  The players were been prepared to meet the demands of their specific roles plus the teams playing or tactical systems.

Irrespective of how long you at this game there is always something new to be learnt and that is what make it both fascinating and enjoyable.

Merry Xmas to all.

Athlete Profiling

While some teams are still dreaming of glory, many club players are well rested from training and games at this stage and are keen to do something.  This new enthusiasm to train can be brought on after a few weeks of letting the hair down or with some players they just have the urge to do some form of exercise.

Some will play soccer over the winter, some will go running, while a certain amount will hit the gym.  What i can’t understand is you will have players who will commit to going to the gym 2-3 times a week but they won’t have any clue whether the exercises they are doing are suited to their specific needs and progress will be limited.  Generally the player will do the exercises he likes, for example bicep curls and bench press plus maybe a few sets of the leg extension to make sure the quads get a good hit!!  No balance or focus to the program and basically just a few random exercises thrown together. “Fail to Prepare..Prepare to Fail”

Would not it be much more beneficial to perform a training program that is specific to your particular strength’s and weaknesses while also considering the needs of your sport.  This could involve analysing recent training history and include measuring range of motion, strength, power, technique, body composition and endurance. Find out where you rate physically at present, plan from there and tweak if necessary going forward to ensure you reduce the risk of injury and maximise your performance.

I am biased of course, but still rather than just advocating best practice it seems like common sense!!  Know where you are now to ensure you take the right road going forward.

 

PK.

 

TRAIN FAST TO BE FASTEST!

The coaching of the game has the biggest influence on a player’s performance. Nevertheless there will always be an important role in developing a player’s athleticism or physical ability.

Improving a player’s physical ability will ensure you have a greater platform to take their technical and tactical performance to a higher level. It will also make the player more robust to the training loads that they undertake and reduce the risk of injury.

No matter what field sport you play, be it Hurling, Gaelic Football, Hockey or Soccer, running efficiently is an important quality to have. Sure in any game, statistically you may have the ball in your possession or in your hands on average for only 60seconds! If you can repeatedly run faster and for longer plus have the tactical awareness of when and where to run, then you are sure to be a better player.

The progression of GPS technology has allowed researchers and coaches alike to profile the exact movements of players in a game and to determine the actual external demands on players.  For example, recent research has indicated at elite level in Gaelic Football that players perform on average 2.3 accelerations per minute with the number and distance of accelerations dependent on playing position. Midfielders performed the most accelerations with full back and full forward line performing the least. Therefore acceleration training must be included in any team’s training program.

When it comes to performing a skill of the game, most players have a strong and a weak side. Essentially players have a strong side because they practiced on that side and a weak side because they never practiced on that side! It is the same when developing a movement skill like running. They all follow the same stages of motor learning and skill development. To maximise the learning effect, you then need to be coached on how to run properly.

Yes due to genetics we all have a ceiling on how fast, fit and strong we can get but to maximize your athletic potential, just like the skills of the game, you must practice it to improve it. Unfortunately though many coaches think they are developing speed but they are not. A common scenario is where players accelerate over fifteen to twenty yards and then run back so they can get another rep as soon as possible. The players may be enjoying the drill but unless you have sufficient recovery between each sprint, each sprint will then become progressively slower to the point where you end up developing fitness or endurance rather than the intended outcome of acceleration.

A coach needs to understand that each type of training will produce a specific physiological response, known as the dose-response relationship. Basically if you want to be able to run at high speeds, you must train at high speeds!

Tackle Bags are often used in training to expose players to increased physicality and to teach them how to protect the ball in the tackle. Unfortunately though in the drills players often receive a pass and then run straight for the tackle bag. This is not due to poor decision making by the player but it is what they are being coached to do. Surprisingly this is still happening at all levels and this is not preparing players for most situations that will happen in a game. Some players have poor vision, who play the game with their head down and running at tackle bags is only adding to the problem. I would much prefer players to get their heads up, and use their pace to accelerate and attack the space. This will lead to retention of possession and possible scoring opportunities while you will still expose the player to a degree of physicality.

In the modern game with blanket defenses and strength and conditioning there are not too many players who can literally brush opponents to the side. Aidan O’Shea is probably the exception here where at times he can survive against multiple players. O’Shea will have the height advantage on Neil McGee on Saturday, but McGee is the strongest opponent he will face so far. It will be some physical battle and I look forward to seeing how it turns out. In contrast you might wonder how Ryan McHugh survives in the modern game. The build of a jockey but he plays with his head up, keeps the ball out of contact and attacks the spaces.

My philosophy is based on integrating the coaching and conditioning as much as possible. I have learned from some of the best coaches and it is fascinating to merge a player’s physical capacity with their positional requirements on the field of play. This playing of the game and what a player does with the ball must always be the measurement of a player’s performance and not how they just perform in the fitness testing.

GAA Speed Camps

I am running GAA Speed Camps over the next few weeks in Coachford, Clonakilty, CIT and Clyda Rovers GAA Club. The focus is on creating awareness, and educating our stars of the future on how to move and react better specific to the games that they play. The camps are for players born between 2000- 2002 and open to both boys and girls.

To learn more about the camps please check my website www.pkperformance.ie or to book a place text name, club, age grade, camp venue to 0877600658 or email to info@pkperformance.ie

Performance Coach

@paudiekissane

www.pkperformance.ie

GPS data courtesy of www.kierancollins.com.

(Article which appeared in Evening Echo, 7th August, 2015)