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.
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