Planning in GAA

Importance of a Coaching Plan

Each day this week, i will break down the different stages of planning within the GAA for Coaches. I will outline the various stages today and will break down each section from Tuesday to Friday. As a coach already, you may have some or all of these plans in place within your club and if so, well done. If your club or you as an individual don’t have these plans in place, then now is as good a time as any to start on them.

As coaches in the GAA, for a long time, we worked in isolation. Not speaking to the coaches ahead of us, to learn from their experiences and also, not speaking to the coaches coming behind us, to give them our experiences.

This leads to each coach re-inventing the wheel, the wheel which has been invented thousands of times. So, rather than reinventing the wheel, how about each coach adds a new spoke to the wheel which was already invented. Each coach can give their “spoke” on the topic they are most familiar with on any given year. As time goes on, the collection of knowledge and information being passed to new coaches will make their life much easier, as well as ensuring each child gets the best possible coaching and opportunities that we can give.

By building a plan, we give a starting point to the whole process. From this process, we can keep adding to and adjusting as time progresses. Each coach has a template to start with, to guide him/her in their experience going forward

I have identified 4 stages needed for planning within the GAA clubs coaching structures.

1.) Long Term Planning: This is the club coaching plan. The development of players from 4-18 usually before they progress into the adult ranks. The GAA has identified 3 strands as outlined in the diagram, Play to Learn, Learn to Compete and Compete to win.

Slightly different from the above diagram, i have identified 5 unique strands that i think need to be considered individually and i categorize these strands as 1. Nursery (4-7 year olds) 2. Child (8-12 year olds) 3. Youth (13-17 year olds) 4. Young Adult (17-20 year olds) and 5. Adult (21 years+). (We could add Social GAA for over 35s but that is a story for another day). Building a step by step long term plan encompassing all of these strands is step 1 in our planning phase. When developing the long term plan, each of these strands has unique differences which need to be considered when designing the plan.

2.) Medium Term Planning: This is planning within each of the individual strands and down to their yearly program. It is about identifying the the core values of that strand and from a coaching perspective, identifying the various areas that need to be considered. What kind of players and people do we want to develop? Here is an example of the Technical skills for the 4-7 year age group.

Within each strand, it is important to identify what areas of Technical, Tactical, Physical, Psychological and Personal we try to develop appropriate to the age group.

3.) Short Term Planning: This is breaking each yearly program down further to a more specific block which caters for the needs of the players. For younger ages, the season can be much the same with no championship to focus on, it allows a smoother progression from the start of the year to the end. As teams get older, they may try to peak a number of times throughout the season e.g. at U14 level, the manager might try to ensure the team is peaking for Feile in May and again for Championship in August. For an adult team who may need to peak in April for the first round of championship and again in August/September, they may also need to be more conscious of the events in the year. Here is how a season for an U10 Hurling team might be broken up. Identifying the games and the differing rules may allow the coach to plan a little more appropriately.

4.) Right Now Planning: This is about identifying and planning on a weekly basis. For young teams this might be only 1 session which can easily be done with 1 session plan. For older teams, this could mean 2 training’s and a match in a given week. Identifying the levels of intensity, volume, game play etc for each session will directly effect the freshness of the team for the weekends game. These session plan/s are important to ensure they follow the path outlined in the other plans listed above. By outlining areas to target throughout the year, the coaches job can become very focused and easily managed in designing activities. Here is an example of a session plan on Gaining Possession in Hurling. The gaining possession was a target from the Short term plan for this week, so using that guidance, this session plan was developed.

The Long Term plan will guide what occurs in the Medium Term plan, which itself will guide the Short Term plan, which will direct the content in the Right Now plan. As each one is interlinked, it would be ideal to start with the Long Term plan and work from there.

Tomorrow, i will outline the stages of the Long Term plan and identify the areas to be considered when developing this plan.

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