The Club Nursery (4-7 year olds)

The Club Nursery, along with Primary School Coaching are the Foundation on which every GAA Club is built. The stronger and better those two are, then the stronger base the GAA Club will have.

Reasons for having a Club Nursery are many and we will outline a few here:

  1. A place where there is a Fun environment for children.
  2. A place where Fundamental Movements can be practiced.
  3. A place for the children to play in a structured and safe environment.
  4. A place for children to learn about playing in team games.
  5. A place where skills are introduced and developed at an age appropriate rate.
  6. A place for children to develop an identity with their local club.
  7. A place where families become ingrained in the culture of Gaelic Games.

These are just some of the benefits to having a Nursery in your club. With more clubs now aiding in their local Primary Schools, having a Club Nursery is an important side product of this. Primary School Coaching is very much about introducing Children to Gaelic Games and the Club is where the children continue their skill development.

An important factor of the Skill Development is to focus on making it as enjoyable as possible. If children enjoy it, they will want to do more of it. Children at this age are still experimenting and want to “Play”, so it is important that “Play” becomes a large part of the Nursery Program. Children want to have a ball at all times. They go to the Nursery to Play. They don’t go to the Nursery to wait in line while other kids play with the ball. Every child should have a ball or be playing a game in which, they are trying to get the ball.

Every skill needed that a 4-7 year old needs, can be learnt and developed in Fun Games. Games like “No Mans Land” will focus on Catching and Kicking the Ball. If a child needs further assistance in any of those skills, the coach can take the child to the side of the game for 1 on 1 coaching. You don’t need a drill for this. The Bounce and Pick up can be learnt in a game like “Rob The Nest”. Again, where a child is struggling, the coach can pull to the side and do 1 on 1 coaching whilst everyone else continues to play. In Hurling, stopping a moving ball and striking can be developed in a game like “No Mans Land”. Dribbling and eventually the Jab/Roll Lift can be developed in a game like “Rob The Nest”. Straight Line Drills are not needed. But what is needed is lots of Balls and Equipment. The Balls don’t have to be official GAA Balls, any type of ball will do. Sponge, plastic, leather etc, the kids don’t discriminate against balls.

The other side product of starting the kids young in the Nursery, is the opportunity of getting parent involvement and a greater chance to up skill the potential coaches over a longer period. Like a child starting at 4 vs a child starting at 8, it will take a while for the late starter to catch up. The same with coaches. A coach who gets a 4-year head start in coaching, has much greater time to be up skilled by the club and to also continue to up skill themselves outside of the club setting. Trial and error of things early in their coaching journey will be easily rectified.

The Clubs involvement in the Nursery is very important and the club should ensure that they have their best coaches and best Coach Educators spending quality time with this group. If Clubs can up skill their mentors and their players in the Nursery, it will lead to a fruitful harvest in the club for many years to come. It is an area often neglected by many clubs as there is no silverware won at these age groups, but the foundation of future enjoyment and maybe success can be started here.

For those interested in Coaching in Nursery or currently doing so, we have released a Pocket-Sized Nursery Coaching Manual which will help all coaches especially novice Coaches. There are several Games for Fundamental Movements, Hurling and Football. Everything is Games Based and from using these Games already it leads to far greater engagement and enjoyment for the children.

To purchase, visit:

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