Thursday, 22 December 2011

GAA coaching App

The first ever GAA coaching App is going to be an APPsolute necessity!

This exciting new App has being developed by Elevate Sports Solutions Limited a young and innovative company based in Maghera, Co. Derry. The App was launched this week on Apple’s App store.

The App is available free in Lite version, which contains four coaching drills and will give the user a feel for the ease of use style and functionality of the App and allow them to consider upgrading. The full version App is priced at a very reasonable £14.99 (that is 29p per drill!), which allows the user to access 52 coaching drills, select individual drills and include them into their own training session. The coach will be able to include as many drills as desired, organise the timing and length of each drill allowing the coach to know exactly how long each drill and the entire session will take.

It looks like the developers of ESS invested a great deal of time in designing these resources and GAA coaches/managers should get great use from them on the training field. On speaking with ESS director Donal Leahy, we spoke about why they created these coaching resources.

We at Elevate Sports Solutions Ltd aim to provide innovative and useful coaching aids to coaches at all levels and we hope our first offering can go some way towards helping them conduct interesting and efficient training sessions’.

The other coaching resource that ESS are releasing is the ESS coaching cards which have the same 52 coaching drills that are on the App and are aimed at catering for GAA coaches/managers who do not use smartphones.
These cards are a quality made card, with clear PVC coating for extra durability and water resistant.

The ESS coaching cards are available to purchase directly from ESS’s website ( and the App is available on the App store and will soon be available on the Android market. Please click on the image to go to the App store.

For more information on Elevate Sports Solutions Limited please contact Donal Leahy at


Here is some further information on the App/Cards

The Elevate Gaelic Football Coaching App aims to provide coaches with colour-coded drills and games that are laid out in a fast, easy-to-understand format.

The application allows the user to:

·         Access drills and games from specific coaching categories (Passing, Attacking, Defending and Skills)
·         Create and manage training sessions
·         Search for specific drills within the application
·         Access Elevate Sports Solutions website


Each drill includes:

·         Drill Illustration
The drill diagram illustrates how to set up the drill. The arrows indicate the actions that the players must complete to successfully complete the drill.

·         How to do the drill
The information required to do the drill or play the game. Information relating to the drill set up, sequences, rules, time and number of players are also included.

·         What coaching points to reinforce
The main coaching points required to effectively perform each drill or game

·         If the coach wants to change it
If the coach wants to change the drill, the App suggests ways of doing so. Making it harder or easier depending on age or ability levels of participants.

·         Equipment needed to perform the drill
The equipment legend tells you exactly how many cones are required, the minimum number of footballs, the amount of players required to effectively carry out drill or game and other specialist equipment when needed e.g. poles or tackle bags.


The Training Session section will allow users to:
·         Create and add drills to specific training sessions.
·         Save as many training sessions as you want.
·         Delete and re-order each individual drill.
·         Include reps for each drill as well as the duration of each rep.
·         Calculate the total time of each session.


Users will be able to search for specific coaching cards by entering a keyword into the ‘search for a drill’ section.

Tabata Training

In recent weeks I noticed a few people on Twitter (mostly @adolfcoors) talking about tabata training and the benefits of it. 

It is essentially interval training, but has a certain breakdown. It was reserached by Izumi Tabata  (pictured right) in Japan.  There is loads of information on the net about it.

The concept is based on 20second bursts of all out effort, followed by 10seconds of rest.  This is repeated 8 times for a 4 minute routine.

The 20 second bursts should be at max effort.  If it is cycling, your 20 seconds should be your best impression of Mark Cavenish heading for the line in Paris.  The 10 seconds of rest seems like just a blink.

It is an intense workout and if you are beginning a new year fitness drive, I would advise you to work your way gradually up towards this level of intensiy.  Once you are there, it will be your new secret to fitness for 2012.  No more excuses of not having time to train!

The routine can be done with various different exercises, front squats, burpees, rowing, cycling.  The list is endless, as it is all about the intensity during those 20seconds. 

Two tabatas can be coupled together, with a 1 minute interval for a quick intense workout. 

For more variation, you could probably mix it up, 2mins of burpees followed by 2 mins on the punchbag.

So looking for something different for my next fitness programme, I decided to give it a go and have being doing it on a regular basis.  The other evening in the gym after my usual routine, I did a box jumps tabata, which left me totally exhausted. 

Also a few mornings each week before work, I do a tabata on the rower, followed by one on the spin bike. A great way to start the day.  It is a great fat burner and the limited time it takes is a huge advantage.  @jcmcloskey who trains with me, says it raises the metabolism for 31hours after one of the sessions, interesting point.

@emcnprofitness has suggested the following one for me to tackle next.  It will be a good way of burning off the turkey and the festive cheer. It has a slight variation, in that it is done by reps and not time. But as long as the rest times (10secs) are consisent and you are giving max intensity, it should do the trick.

35-40kg on the bar - FRONT Squat as close to floor as possible - No Half Squats
  • Set 1 - 9 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
  • Set 2 - 8 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
  • Set 3 - 8 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
  • Set 4 - 7 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
  • Set 5 - 7 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
  • Set 6 - 7 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
  • Set 7 - 7 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
  • Set 8 - 7 Reps - 10 Sec Rest
He also to me to keep a zimmer frame handy when its over!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Intro to Strength & Conditioning from EMCN Pro Fitness

Strength and Conditioning is undoubtedly one of the main areas that many athletes strive to improve during the season to gain that extra advantage on the playing field. However a big mistake that the majority seem to make is concentrating on bodybuilding style training which concentrate on a single joint, single muscle group exercise.
Some of these exercises have their time and place for building ...muscle size in the gym but in terms of improving athletic performance can prove detrimental for athletic development and flexibility. In combining a proper S&C program along with the appropriate Nutrition results can be immense.

Whether an athlete improving performance for sport or someone looking to tone up/lose weight, Nutrition is the key to kick-starting health before trying to get results. Getting the right foods on board at the right time can manipulate the body’s hormone levels and produce an advantageous anabolic state(increase muscle size and mass) or debilitating catabolic state(breaking down of muscle).

In the next few weeks I will be talking about some important exercises for power and athletic development as well as nutrition tips for performance and weight loss.

A key point to remember for any athlete looking to improve their level of performance – Get Healthy – Get Strong – Get Fast

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

‘The Commute’ – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

After the recent RTE show ‘The Commute’ based on the commitment GAA players have to make to play for their clubs, it got me thinking of the scenario in Derry, where clubs have to fly players home regularly for training and games. 

This season Drumsurn were rarely able to have a full training session.  My own club Slaughtneil also have players working across the pond.  I was chatting to players from Claudy and lot of them including county player Marty Donaghy were working overseas.

More recently I was chatting to a player from Craigbane, who also have players studying and working in Scotland and England.  Here is the story of Aidan Kerlin:

My name is Aidan Kerlin, I am a student at the University of Glasgow, studying a Bachelors Degree in Primary Education. However, more importantly I am a member of the current Derry Intermediate football champions, Craigbane GAC.

Although most club players within Derry have a short, straightforward and laborious commute to training and matches. Myself and three other students on the panel have the added dilemma of crossing the Irish Sea in order to be part of the continuing success of our club. Paul Sharkey is studying at Northumbria University in Newcastle, while Noel Reilly and David Lowry are both at Liverpool John Moore’s University.

This ongoing commute has been the case for the last seven weeks, due to the overlap between our continuing season and the beginning of the university year on the 19th September.

Once we overcame Slaughtmanus in the quarter finals of the championship on the 10th September, we were aware that travel arrangements had to be put in place in order to be part of the ongoing season with Craigbane.

The next date on our GAA calendar was the championship semi-final with Drumsurn on the 24th September. Admittedly, this was a hard period of time for all of the students on the team, having to turn down the appeal of the annual Fresher’s Week festivities. However, we were aware that the prize of competing in our first county final was the reward. Thankfully keeping fit was not an issue, pre-season training with our various university teams helped to keep the fitness ticking over.

I have now become extremely familiar with the inside of airport terminals, train stations and early morning alarm calls in order to get home every weekend.

My weekly routine consists of a alarm call on a Friday morning, a quick bite of breakfast and a 20 minute walk to the nearby Glasgow Central train station. This is followed by a 50 minute train Journey to the remote Glasgow Prestwick International airport.

Here it is a waiting game for approximately an hour before we can begin boarding. Ironically, the quickest part of the journey is the flight itself; a quick 15 minute journey takes me across the Irish Sea and into the City of Derry airport.

From here it is a lazy day, reading the Gaelic Life, Derry Post and Irish News from the previous week to pass the time until training at on Friday night in Craigbane.

Next stop was Celtic Park, with Drumsurn the opponents. After a well documented shaky start we overcame Drumsurn to book our place in the county final against Swatragh. With Monday morning comes the commute back to Glasgow for another week of study. This commute is the same combination of trains, planes and airport terminals as the Friday adventure.

This commute has been repeated on numerous occasions since the start of the semester, including the county final win against Swatragh.  This was followed by a league victory over Ballerin days later.  Next up was Swatragh in the league semi final.  Then in was on to the Ulster campaign and a quarter final victory over Kilclief of Down.

The next week, it was back to the domestic scene, the  league final with Steelstown and this success puts us into senior football next season.  The most recent chapter was a win over Carrickmacross of Monaghan in the Ulster semi final.

However the continuous travelling can have its positives also, a few home cooked meals and a weekly batch of clothes been washed is a nice luxury to have.

Thanks to the financial support of the club and the ongoing success on the pitch, the travelling back and forth to university is a small price to pay for a great year with the club. And with the Ulster final still to contest, I look forward to another journey home.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Where is it all going wrong?

Before putting this blog entry together, I gave serious thought to the content I make available.  After what happened a well known intercounty footballer recently, I have given all the people mentioned in this blog entry aliases.  I don't want to 'cross the line' and get removed from the panel.

It's half time in Celtic Park, it’s championship quarter final day and the dressing room resembles a war zone. 

The physio is treating Tony the midfielder on the treatment table.  He suffered a back injury in the last kick-out of the half.  On the other side, the team doctor tries to stop the blood pouring from Paddy, the centre back’s busted nose.  Two players are blaming the referee, the man who struck Paddy should have been sent off.

In the shower area, Joe, the kitman brings out a fresh set of jerseys for the second half, the first set soaked from the deluge of rain.  Once the juice, jaffa cakes and water have been distributed team manager Liam gathers his thoughts. How has his team ended up two points in arrears after dominating the midfield exchanges?

The scoreboard reads 0-7 to 0-5.  Does he take off the two corner forwards?  Does he play two men up front on their own to create more space?  Are the corner backs not up to scratch?  Half time doesn't last long and soon there will be a knock on the door, failure to be out on time will result in a fine. When the last two players return from the toilet, the manager addresses the troops.

It's time to find out exactly where the game is being lost.  One of the management team takes out his iPhone.  During the first half he has been keeping stats using Dartfish Easytag (see screenshot).  They are winning at midfield and the forwards have only registered one wide. 

The problem is simple.  Too much possession being lost, including 7 misplaced fist passes, elementary errors. For the second half Liam urges his team to get back to basics.  We can’t have another series of failed attacks in the second half.

We have a strong midfield, a 'keeper with a great kick-out and a dangerous full forward line.  We need to eradicate the simple mistakes and get the ball forward early.  It is also stressed that the forwards need to keep making the runs to create space.

So within the space of 10 minutes a set of agitated players are now totally clear of what is required.  This is the power of some structured feedback.  A mindless ranting session at halftime can be replaced with a simple structured set of instructions for the second half. 

It doesn't need to be information overload as players are knackered and only take in limited information discussed during the interval.

From the screenshot, you can see quite a range of items.  The person taking the stats, depending on how much practice they have had, can record quite a bit of information.  However, remember no matter how many stats you take account of, the key is picking out the key ones to get across to the players.

As the players trot out for the second half they need to be totally clear of the plan for the second half.  Championship games need players with a calm head, there is an increased chance of better decision making when the game is in the melting pot.  Then at Tuesday night's session the information can be reinforced, giving the players a target for the next round.

Liam’s team will face the parish rivals in the semi final, whom they have not beaten in the last four meetings.  This is definitely a half time period that will need calm heads and clear instruction.

Have you any experience of team feedback at half time?  Let us know via the Comment Section below.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Phil Richards Internship - Day 5 - Putting it all Together

Our last day consisted of combining knowledge of every area we have studied in the last week and being able to blend it into our athletes programs at specific times.

Phil explained and demonstrated how to take body fat percentage from a 10 site skinfold and put this into a software program which will enable calculations to be done.

This program also effectively allows the design of individualised programs with ease and keeps records of athletes progress over a period of time. We finished off the day analysing blood under a high powered microscope and Phil was able to point out what an athlete is deficient and lacking in their diet.

All in all an amazing week with one of the worlds greatest sports nutritionist and strength coaches. One that I certainly can take away a lot from and hopefully be able to change peoples lives for the better!

Phil Richards Internship - Day 4 - Olympic Lifting

This morning we had the pleasure of meeting and being coached by 3 legends involved in Strength training and Weightlifting. Glenn Ross (World Masters Strongest Man), Ray Williams (Wales Weightlifting Coach and Commonwealth Gold medallist) and Neil Taylor (England Rugby Union Head Weightlifting Coach).

Already having learnt the benefits from Phil Richards about weightlifting for sports performance we spent a full day going through the Olympic lifts in practice with tips from each of the men, before we got to see Glenn produce the 83kg dumbbell which he was able to shoulder press 14 times and still holds the World Record!

Already feel more competent in being able to carry out these lifts and be able to implement them into programs. last day tomorrow putting it all together and Program Planning.