Train as you Play and Play as you Train
By: Michael Mc Geehin
Gaelic Games are simple in design but require an extensive array of movement and decision making skills. The design of a Gaelic Games Training Program preliminary focuses on five interdependent areas of development:
• Technical skills
• Tactical skills
• Physical skills
• Mental skills
• Lifestyle skills
For coaching at any level, introduction through to elite, one of the key challenges for the coach is to provide a learning environment for the player that will facilitate the development of these skills particularly with regard to the development of movement and decision making skills, with and without the ball, in a games context.
A typical coaching session will consist of:
• Warm up
• Skills practice through drills
• Full game
In this typical session for the development of technical skills, the drill or practice occurs outside of the real game context and usually without defenders. This isolated practice has its place in the initial stages of learning any technique but it is important that the players move quickly into more realistic practical scenarios. These scenarios should simulate the demands of the game while retaining the crucial element of play.
In designing your session remember SPACE = TIME = SKILL. Alternating the size of the playing area can shape play into specific areas of player and team development. Beginner’s need plenty of space to play effectively, more experienced players need to perform in limited space.
With this in mind the typical session for performance, incorporating movement and decision making skills development, would consist of
• Warm up
• Individual practice
• Basic skill drills
• Small sided games
• Full sided game
Examples of small sided games:
Win by One
- 5V5 with goal keepers
- Play for 12 mins – normal rules
- Goals only
- Winning team can only win by one goal
- First team to score retains possession for duration of 12 mins or until opposition
- When an equaliser is scored both teams can attempt to score again to win by one for
the remainder of the 12 minutes
- Variation points only
TouchDown (5V5 V5)
- 3 teams of 5 – two teams defending, one in each grid. One team attacking for the
- Attacking team has five attacking attempts in each grid, ten attacks in total
- Attacking team attempts to touchdown on endline of grid they are attacking for a
score. Defending team attempts to delay, deny and dispossess. If defenders
succeed the attack is over.
- Next attack in opposite grid starts in central area
- 2 teams divided between two grids
- -5 red defenders marking 4 blue forwards in one grid. In opposite grid 5 blue defenders marking 4 red forwards
- Blue team in both grids play as one team as do the red team
- Area in the middle is a no go area or the ‘net’ in Tennis
- If blue defenders are in possession to score they must play the ball over the ‘net’ to a blue forward who then has to work the ball to a blue defender to get a score
- Coach is the umpire and has the final say on scores and possession
- First to 5 or 10 wins
- Variation – 5 forwards on 4 defenders – one in each grid
- 2v2 in each grid for 4-5 minutes
Michael McGeehin is the Director of Coaching Ireland and is widely regarded as one of the very best field coaches in Gaelic Games. Michael is a P.E. Graduate from the University of Limerick and had a successful career in the army retiring at the rank of commandant.
Michael is also a master tutor with the Ulster Council G.A.A. He is also a vastly experienced coach having coached a number of Inter County Teams including Mayo, Fermanagh, Roscommon, Laois and Clare. Michael also coached Finn Harps F.C.