Coaching Articles Volume 3 by The Camogie Association

Coaching Articles from coaches for coaches

Coaching Articles from coaches for coaches


You also want an ePaper? Increase the reach of your titles

YUMPU automatically turns print PDFs into web optimized ePapers that Google loves.







Troubling the comfortable

By Brian Boyle.........................................................................2

The Importance of Trust

By Anna Marie McCarthy................................................ 21

The Grip and Swing

By Peter Casey ........................................................................4

The Power of Habits

By Peter Casey..................................................................... 23

Coaching smarter not harder

By Catherine Callaghan.......................................................6

Ditch the Drills

By Paul O’Brien................................................................... 25

The future is now

By Peter Casey.........................................................................9

Coaching Pests

By Liam Moggan................................................................. 27

Self Determined Coaching

By John Murphy...................................................................11

Retention is the Name of the Game

By Mickey Quigg................................................................. 28

Inspire to play, empower to stay

By Peter Casey.....................................................................14

“Let them Play”

By Paul O’Brien....................................................................31

Coach Education & Continuous Learning

By Paul O’Brien................................................................... 16

The balancing act of coaching

By Peter Casey..................................................................... 32

Goalkeeping is just different

By Mark Cooney.................................................................. 18

Session planning

By Aisling Kane................................................................... 34

The Assist & Challenge Model - More than a

Technical Coaching Tool

By Ross Corbett................................................................... 19

Scoring is the name of the game

By Peter Casey..................................................................... 36


Troubling the


By Brian Boyle

The interesting thing about coaching is you have to

trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled’


came across this quote from Ric Charlesworth a couple

of years ago. As an avid reader, rarely has a single

statement been mulled over more and personally,

created so many synergies between practice and role or

summarised so perfectly the essence of coaching.

Ric Charlesworth, an author, medical doctor, politician,

cricket player at representative level, Olympic hockey

medal holder as player and coach, 8 world coach of the year

awards, is a fascinating man and the living embodiment

of such frequently used coaching terms as ‘sampling’ and

‘late specialisation’. Incidentally his 2 coaching books are

nugget-laden and well worth the read.

The simplicity and clarity of the coaching role which can

be gleaned from the quote above should be affixed to the

front page of every coaches’ planner irrespective of the

level they coach at. The essence and indeed the spirit of

effective coaching can be distilled down to the key tenets of

this statement not just on a coaching/playing level but also

on a pastoral and macro level. If one is to carry out the role

of coach with the aim of making a meaningful difference

to the people surrounding them then that responsibility

goes beyond the pitch. Meaningful experiences, however

through the opportunities we create, can permeate into the

weekly lives of those players in their time away from the


In 2019 the One World Survey carried out in conjunction

with UCD and Jigsaw, the youth Mental Health Service

reported the effect one good adult can have on the lives

of young people. It reported that meaningful positive

experiences as a result of ‘one good adult’ in their lives

can lead to increased self-esteem, more success in school,

improved mental health, having the confidence to seek out

somebody in difficult times and less risk-taking behaviours.

How can we ensure that such meaning can be experienced

by every player in our care from the 5- and 6-year olds right

up to the representative player? Irrespective of the player

level their requirements of the coach are the same - namely


In his excellent book ‘Mensch- Beyond the Cones’ the

author, Johnathan Harding speaks of a wonderful word

Menschenfänger which he discovered while researching

the book in Germany. Literally translated, it means ‘People

Catcher’ however its subliminal meaning goes much deeper.

It means someone people can believe in, somebody they

want to follow, someone who awakens a spirit of curiosity

and enthusiasm within them.

All invasion games come with similar key principles which,

all talk of tactics, formations, styles and patterns can be

distilled down to. They are - getting possession, giving

possession, maintaining possession, fundamentals, trying

to score and trying to win back possession (Thorpe &

Bunker 1982). When designing activities, to ensure your

training remains as authentic as possible to the game you

are preparing for, they (activities) should be created with

these principles in mind. Secondly to ensure as game-like

an experience as possible for your players, they should also

try to keep the integrity of the way they occur in a game-like

situation in close proximity. Create meaningful experiences

that allow your players to engage with, interact with, mould

into a creation representative of their understanding. Allow

them to inhabit the scenario and not inhibit their creativity.

An example of a scenario could be when playing a game you

find your players when on the end line rather than recycling

the ball out into space, they take shots from impossible

angles. A simple approach to this might involve looking at

games where a similar occurrence happens like hockey with

short or penalty corners and the ball being played to the

edge of the semi-circle.

Discuss the scenario with your players - by discussion I

mean 2-way discussion with players about what we should

do in that situation; where should forwards go in order to


with younger teams. Allow them explore the concept

uninhibited within an environment familiar to them i.e.,

a school yard invasion game like ‘Red Rover’ or ‘British

Bulldog’. By creating a games-based learning experience in

a playful environment familiar to them, the players will be

more receptive to the concepts you are exploring. Play it

through normally, discuss it and place the condition on the

actual training game. In this case maybe create an exclusion

zone in front of the goals inside which supporting players

cannot enter.

There are multiple learner types including visual, auditory

and kinaesthetic to name but 3. It is going to be difficult

to cater for all of these every time you want to rehearse

a match scenario. However, if you can touch upon a multifaceted

approach in introducing it you have the best chance

of engaging with all players and thus, comfort and trouble

the masses in equal measures! Embrace the chaos, enjoy

the chaos. See you further down the line. Nobody has the

definitive roadmap as to where the coaching journey should

go or how we get there but that’s what makes the coaching

journey an ever evolving one as new challenges are created

and previous challenges are tomorrow’s certainties.

be in the best position to receive a pass and make it hard

on the defender. This can be a hard skill for all coaches to

master but according to Dr Shane Pill the ‘Learner voice

dominates the conversation’. https://learningthroughsport.



Where should defenders go in order to best defend the

situation? Play out a couple of controlled scenarios like

short corners from different positions on the end line and

ask for feedback from the players before resuming a game.

If the scenario doesn’t occur in your game. Offer a constraint

to the participants whereby if a team scores in normal play

they can rush to the corner flag and collect a ball to create

an opportunity for the bonus score. This scenario can be

then used to coach defenders on how to work the ball out

from a tight position, under pressure.

Another scenario might be that when a player is running

through on goal the other forwards, in their eagerness

to support run towards the forward thus bringing more

defenders in on top of the attacker and cluttering the

space in front of goal, making it much harder to score. This

is a common scenario in younger teams. Play it through

normally, discuss it and place the condition on the game.

In this case maybe create an exclusion zone in front of the

goals inside which supporting players cannot enter.

Another scenario might be when a player is running through

on goal the other forwards converge on the ball carrier. In

their eagerness to support they run towards the forward

thus, bringing more defenders in on top of the attacker

and cluttering the space in front of goal, making it much

harder to score. This is a common scenario experienced


The Grip and


By Peter Casey

As the fastest field sport played by females in the

world, Camogie can be an extremely challenging

game to master. According to the learning.gaa.

ie it is estimated that there are over 170 skills in

hurling and camogie. As a coach it can be very daunting to

get around to teaching multiple skills. In every squad (even

inter county senior) one of the biggest challenges is to

deal with players with varying levels of skill profiency and

athletic prowess. Often in coaching courses we get asked

what is the best way of dealing with such a group.

Very often coaches believe that theirs is the only team

that has a gulf between its strongest and weakest players.

Thankfully the wider GAA family is making huge efforts to

be far more inclusive than in the past - even though we

still have a long way to go – and coaches want to be able

to improve their weakest players while still challenging the

strongest players. We would all love to develop our players

to their potential in the hope that one day some of them

could play like Carrie Dolan, Aoife Donohue, Ann Dalton,

Sarah Dervan and the other Galway and Kilkenny players

who performed in Croke Park in the recent league final.

When trying to help coaches deal with their dilemma often

as tutors we have to share our own experiences. One of the

best things I ever learned is that development is non-linear.

We like to think of things in terms of linear improvement

but development is more a mishmash. Players develop

at different rates and most likely your best players now

will not be the best in the future and your weakest now

could one day be your strongest. However to be one of

the strongest in the future there are a few essential skills

that players need, or else it will be very difficult for them to

master the other skills.

The essential skills are often referred to as the basics or the

basic skills and it really is an unfortunate term. Referring to

them as basic demeans them in a sense with the result that

coaches often fail to give them the care they require. The

essential skills in hurling are the grip and the swing and if

we get them right we will have loads of boys and girls able

to play hurling and camogie but if we neglect these skills

then it will be a struggle. The first few months of a child’s

hurling or camogie career is a really important time.

If all under 6 coaches said that by the end of the year, all

players will grip and swing the hurley correctly, they will

have done most of their job. I’m in the fortunate position of

coaching my club under 6’s every Sunday morning. One of

the first things we do 3 or 4 times in every session is to sing

the new song we are learning, sung to the air of Baby Shark.

Hurley hand doo doo doo doo doo doo

Hurley hand doo doo doo doo doo doo

Hurley hand doo doo doo doo doo doo

Hurley hand!

Catching hand doo doo doo doo doo doo

Catching hand doo doo doo doo doo doo

Catching hand doo doo doo doo doo doo

Catching hand!


C shaped swing doo doo doo doo doo doo

C shaped swing doo doo doo doo doo doo

C shaped swing doo doo doo doo doo doo

C shaped swing!

All children raise their dominant hand while singing the first

verse, their non-dominant hand for the second verse (which

was learned in week 3) and swing a very short hurley with

one hand for verse 3 (learned in week 6).

The grip and swing are the skills that enable all other skills

to happen. Striking from the hand, rising, hooking, blocking,

first touch are all much easier to teach and learn when

players have learned a good grip and swing. By taking our

time with the grip and swing and learning the 6 main points

about the skill we can keep our group together far more

easily and children are active agents in their own learning.

Rome wasn’t built a day but with careful repetition over the

first while, young children should develop good habits that

will stand to them over a long period of time.

Children who are very tall for their age could go up a size

and children who are shorter should go down a size but the

main advise is that it is better to go for a shorter hurley

when learning the grip and swing.

There are great strikers in our games now like Patrick

Horgan, Aaron Gillane, Joe Canning, Chloe Morey, Denise

Gaule and Gemma O’Connor. While they all have their

individual differences they also have a lot of similarities. In

order to be a good striker you need to have a good swing.

Learning the hurley hand and its positions, the catching

hand and its positions and a c-shaped swing and what that

looks like over the first year of a child’s camogie career can

give them a better chance of also becoming a good striker

and hurler.

The other major factor that effects a child learning the grip

and swing is the size and weight of the hurley used. It is

quite difficult to buy a hurley suitable for under 6’s and

unfortunately the ones sold in most supermarkets are much

too long, thick and heavy. Most of the well known hurley

makers however sell suitable child hurleys. The Camogie

Association recently published a really useful guide

for sizing a hurley correctly. In my experience this is the

maximum size that children should use.


Coaching Smarter

not Harder

By Catherine


Albert Einstein is reported to have once said if

you can’t explain something simply then you

don’t understand it well enough yourself. I like to

apply this kind of philosophy to coaching, to keep

things simple, ensuring those being coached do not need to

expend unnecessary energy trying to interpret what is being

said to them during a session, as for me, the most effective

coaching session is the one which affords the most time to

the players to be involved in simply playing the game.

In my experience the best way to ensure this kind of

environment is to do some work on one’s own coaching

methods and style off the pitch. In this piece I’d like to

outline five key points or practices that I have found to be

both worthwhile and effective in my coaching life.

1. Commit. In short - Find Your Why

on being the best is constantly comparing themselves to

other coaches and thereby leaking some of their energy

on to something over which they have no control - this is a

wasted effort, effort which would be much more effectively

invested in developing our quality of attention ie our focus.

2. Focus. In short - Helps you make better decisions faster

Believe it or not the difference between an adequate

player or coach and an extraordinary player or coach lies

in the quality of their attention. These days we’re all prone

to distraction, in fact those of us who have grown up with

phones in our hands are well versed in distraction, we

expect distraction, we are, if you will, distraction focussed.

It’s common knowledge that attention spans over the past

number of years have become increasingly short so it’s

really important for anyone who would like to become

more efficient in how they utilise their energy that they

develop a daily practice of “playing attention” - directing

The action in commitment is decision. In order to get better

at coaching one needs to decide every day to want to get

better at coaching but as we all know when we’re working

towards anything, the desire to want it isn’t enough on

it’s own - we need to combine this desire with repeatedly

deciding to work towards getting better at coaching -

without this basic agreement within ourselves we will not

stay on the path of becoming better…we will stall.

Something else to consider here is one’s motivation behind

the desire to develop as a coach. Is it a desire to become a

better coach for your players? or Is it a desire to be the best

coach? It might seems like a subtle difference between the

two standpoints but behind the scenes, what’s happening

inside a mind which is focused on themselves getting

better in order to serve others more skilfully versus a mind

set on becoming the best there are two very different sets

of events unfolding. The coach who focusses on getting

better applies all of their energy and attention on improving

themselves as a coach whereas the coach who focusses


your attention onto something and holding it there is more

difficult than you might realise initially - such a practice

will enable the coach to harness, direct & hold all of their

attention on what needs to be attended to in any given

moment at training or in a game. Often times we may

unwittingly leak the limited resources of our attention onto

things outside of what is actually happening at the moment

thereby diluting our capacity make the most skilful decision

faster under pressure because we’re not fully focussed on

exactly what is presented in front of us at training or in a

game situation.

3. Build Bonds. In short - Fosters Buy-in

We remember of course that coaching is all about people

rather than any given sport or activity and as social beings

working with people in essence means creating and

maintaining relationships - even with people we’re not

naturally drawn towards. When it comes to a robust sport

like Camogie where the drop out rate at underage is startling

it’s really important coaches work on their awareness of

how they relate to these young people - having said that

building bonds is no less important in adult age grades. In

my experience it’s imperative to offer players what they

want ie fun, enjoyment, a safe place for self expression, a

sense and a feeling of, purpose - which I round up to an

overall feeling of happiness and fulfilment. This type of

offering is important in order for players in turn to want

what it is the coach has to offer ie hard work, challenge,

growth as a player and a person.

4. Choose your Words. In short - Build Belief

The efficiency with which coaches encourage their players

to come on board and want what coaches have to offer will

depend largely on the vision/atmosphere/environment

a coach can create, what’s commonly called ‘the culture’

of a team or club. This culture is formed initially from the

thoughts of the coach/manager. These thoughts then need

to find proper expression through words and actions so the

value of deliberately and consistently choosing the most

appropriate words cannot be overemphasised. For me this

is a very time consuming endeavour but it does pay huge

dividends. A coach’s input can be made much more effective

and consequently less time consuming for the coach, as

the quality of their focus, mentioned earlier, improves. The

aim here is to try inspire players to find something inside

of themselves that they may not know is in there yet or

indeed may suspect is in there but they don’t feel confident

enough to let it out /too vulnerable to be themselves or

afraid on some level that if they try they may fail which they

interpret as a negative experience. They may think maybe

I’m not as good as I think I am etc. It’s the role of the coach

to encourage and grow the belief - to let their players know

both through their words and actions - I wish you could see in

yourself what I can see in you - be a mirror as it were, believe

on their behalf until they believe it themselves. Here we

mostly focus on the building, strengthening and growth of

intrinsic motivation while keeping in mind the Pymalion

Effect which is, in essence, the phenomenon that players

generally tend to have a higher expectation of themselves

if coaches have a higher expectation of them - this is a self

fulfilling prophecy.


5. Be Patient. In short - keeps players playing

Being patient is one of the most difficult parts of the art of

coaching I believe. Coaches want things to unfold in the way

they plan, coaches want players to pick up skills and tactics

in a certain time frame, coaches have a schedule & coaches

with the best will in the world want to see their players

succeed. But, as coaches we must always remember - what

a player appears to do or not do can often be deceptive - an

apparent hesitancy can often just be a gathering of courage

or strength as they ruminate over taking the next step in their

exploration of what it is they’re really made of. The causes

of player behaviour are often very subtle so as coaches we

must not be too quick to condemn or even praise for that

matter. We must remember that everything unfolds in it’s

own time no matter what schedule we’ve created.

Something to Ponder - If our coaching energy is free flowing

but directionless we have plenty of passion alright but in

my experience passionate coaching is not enough to ensure

players keep playing. If we work to some degree on steps 1 -

4 what we’ll find is our coaching energy is free flowing with

direction and with step 5 we add goodwill and compassion

towards those in our charge and ultimately a desire to make

happy rather than to be happy.

The great news about this type of clear, compassionate

coaching is - it is it’s own reward.


The Future

is Now

By Peter Casey

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for


They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to


Kahill Gibrain – On Children

As parents and coaches the future is always in

our minds. We spend a lot of time worrying and

wondering about life down the road. We fill our

minds with questions and concerns like, how

will our children turn out? Will they be ok? What school

will we send them to? Where will they go to College? As

coaches many of our thoughts are filled with hoping our

players will be good at hurling and Camogie that we’ll

win championships and that our players will play for the


to mind. It’s easy to judge other parents and say that they

should make their children play sport. If that doesn’t work

then a clip around the ear or a kick in the backside would

sort it all out. All that kind of advice was commonplace in

many parishes in a different time. However this type of talk

also led to abuse where children were frightened to speak

out. Thankfully children are seen and also heard in most

places now. It is very healthy that children can now tell their

parents “yes I’d like to go there” and “no I don’t feel like

doing that”.

There is a great book that I sometimes use called How to

talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk. It deals with

the fundamental connection between how children feel

and how they behave. It states “When children feel right,

they’ll behave right. How do we help them to feel right? By

accepting their feelings?” The book deals with the problem

that parents don’t usually accept their children’s feelings.

For example “You don’t really feel that way” “You’re only

saying that because you’re tired”, “There’s no reason to be

upset”. In a GAA coaching context we could sometimes say

Thinking about the future is important but sometimes it

causes us to lose sight of what’s happening in front our

eyes at the moment. We are blessed to have children and

it is so easy to take them for granted but it would be hard

to envisage any vibrancy in a community without children.

Some of the most committed GAA parents often find it very

difficult to encourage their children to play hurling and

Camogie. Even with all their persuasive skills and bribery

ideas their children refuse point blank to play. It must

be very distressing for a parent who has dreamed of big

days in Croke Park and Thurles cheering on their sons and

daughters to have to cope with a 6 or 7 year old child who

won’t even join the local club.

In the past children were owned by adults. Parents,

teachers, priests and coaches often felt that they were

superior to children and children had to do as they were

told. Old sayings like “children should be seen and not

heard” and “an empty vessel makes the most sound” come


“you couldn’t be bored this is exciting” “you’re not cold it’s

very hot” and “you don’t hate Camogie, you love it”. The

big lesson is that we should never deny children’s rights to

express their feelings even if it means they disagree with us

or tell us what we don’t wish to hear.

Giving children a voice and allowing them to be part of

the decision making process in a house or a team is really

good for their development. It also causes us to see things

from their point of view and it helps us develop good

communication skills where we can get our point of view

across. Instead of telling our children that they have to go

training and they don’t have a choice it is better to reason

with them. “I’d really like if you joined the GAA club because

Gaelic games are such a healthy pastime where you get to

play with your friends. I can tell that you’re worried that

you mightn’t be good enough but I’m sure you’ll be fine

and I’ll have a word with your coach so he won’t do stuff

that’s too hard. I’ll also stay close by so if you need a break

you can come over to me”. If after saying all that they are

still adamant they don’t want to play we should respect

that right. When they go of their own free will they develop

a greater love of the game.

Children provide adults with fantastic entertainment when

they play sports. Some of the best sporting memories I have

were of small matches I played as a child and underage

games where I was a coach. These games may seem really

insignificant in the greater scheme of things but there was

nothing small or insignificant about the effort the children

gave or the satisfaction that the parents derived from these

games. Sometimes we get so caught up in the future that

we fail to see the brilliance or beauty of our children as they

are at the moment. We keep thinking it’ll be great next year

when he’s bigger and stronger. A parent once said “when

my child was 3 I couldn’t wait for him to be six and when he

was 6 I wished he was 12. When he was 12 I wished he was

16 and now that he’s 16 I wish he was three”

Sometimes we dream about reaching the Holy Grail but

there is no Holy Grail. The players who win the All-Ireland

final have to play with their clubs a couple of weeks later

and the following year they are back training and preparing

as though they never won anything. There is great vibrancy

in many club and county underage structures at present

and we have never had as many people playing our games

or seen the games at such a high standard. The work of a

GAA or camogie club never stops though. In 10 years’ time

these clubs will still need people to start off their under 6’s

and 8’s. Even if clubs are struggling there is always a chance

of a fresh start with the 6’s. The key is to try to stay in the



Self Determined


By John Murphy

Importance of Motivation

We all want to work with motivated players. They generally

work harder in training, take on greater responsibility

for their own performances, strive for higher standards

and perform better in games. In the past, motivation was

often seen as coming directly from the coach to players,

Al Pacino’s Any Given Sunday speech is a classic example

while other coaches (or even players) have often been

identified as great motivators. This form of motivation can,

however, lose its’ impact over time. Paul O’Connell noted in

his autobiography that he was constantly seeking out new

ways opposition teams or the world in general had slighted

him or Munster so he could use it to rouse players in a prematch

team talk. This dependency on a coach, manager or

captain to constantly motivate the team can also lead to

players taking less ownership for their performances and a

severe lack of leadership skills through the squad. In an ideal

world, motivation to perform comes from within the player

themselves; that constant journey to be better; to achieve

more and to constantly improve is a far more sustainable

form of motivation. We will outline some methods of how

this can be developed in your group throughout this article.

Types of Motivation

Below are a few common types of motivation and examples

of each.

• Intrinsic Motivation: Comes from within the player

themselves. Examples include a wing back trying to

improve her side-line cut technique as she simply

wants to be better at them or an U8 trying to complete

5 quality roll lifts in a row for her own satisfaction.

• Extrinsic Motivation: Comes from something external

to the player. Examples include an intercounty player

pushing themselves in training or matches with a view

to winning an all-star or a younger player consistently

going training due to a coach or parent rewarding

them with sweets or other treats after training.

• Controlled Motivation: Also comes from something

external to the player and in a sense “forces” effort

or commitment. Examples include monetary fines to

players who arrive late to training or extra conditioning

for mistakes during drills.

• Amotivation: Is a lack of motivation in general on the

part of the player. Often seen through a general lack of

interest in Camogie whether it be playing, spectating

or attending training.



Theory (Overview)


Ideally we want to develop another form of motivation,

Autonomous Motivation, in our players as this leads

to them taking ownership of their own performance

and development in the longer term. It also leads to a

greater sense of satisfaction in players when they reach

certain milestones, both as individual performers and as

a collective group of players. Self-Determination Theory

was developed by two renowned psychologists, Edward

Deci & Richard Ryan, who spent many years looking at

various forms of motivation to identify what combined the

most effective performances, greater long-term persistence

and most positive psychological health. The three basic

psychological needs that must be met for optimal

autonomous motivation are: autonomy, competence and



Allowing players to have an element of autonomy or

choice helps to build greater buy-in and ownership as

they feel more involved in the decision-making aspect

of their development. Giving players full responsibility

for their own training schedule is simply not realistic and

would often lead to too many conflicting wishes among

an entire panel. It can also lead to too many “stronger”

characters dominating the various decisions that are made

to suit their own needs. Some simple strategies that can be

implemented to include an element of choice or autonomy

for players in a group are:

• A questionnaire at the start of the season to determine

the most suitable training days and times (7.30 or

8pm? Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Wednesday,

Friday, Sunday?).

• Developing 3 to 4 different RAMP warm-ups that include

the necessary skills of the game and allow players to

choose which one they use for championship day.

• Allow athletes to lead their own cool down or mobility

routine with the exercises they feel most beneficial.

• Allow some options in the gym programme where

players can select their preferred option (such as front

squat or trap bar deadlift as their core lower body lift;

dumbbell or barbell bench press; etc.,).

• Allowing players to create their own playlist for the

dressing room or bus to matches.

• Create their own list of preferred foods for after training

or matches when a budget may allow for recovery meals.

• Ask players to come up names or titles of various

formations, individual positions/roles or in-game

strategies (such as purple formation, orange formation,

plus 1, etc.,)


This is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently

and is task specific. It is important to note that feelings of

competence can differ across sports and across skills within

a sport. For example, a goalkeeper may have high levels of

competence at shot stopping or striking over long distances

but may have low competence at soloing or handpassing

accurately. A player’s perception of their own level of

competence, perceived competence, has a huge impact on

how likely they are to try a new sport, remain involved in

a new sport or even to try new things within a sport they

currently play (such as a defender trying the forwards or

vice versa). Female players consistently display lower levels

of perceived competence than their male counterparts. This

often leads to lower levels of enjoyment from sport and a

lower likelihood to try new sporting experiences. Highlighting

players increased levels of competence or ability in Camogie

or specific skills within the game can hugely benefit their

levels of perceived competence. Providing opportunities for

players to notice their own levels of improvement through

mini-assessments and through coaches feedback can lead to

greater enjoyment and more openness to new experiences.

Some strategies that can be incorporated to increase or

highlight improvements in competence are:

• Coaches praising effort. As we praise the effort a player

makes they are more likely to focus on the longer

process which leads to improvements in competence

over time.

• Feedback Sandwich. Highlighting strengths around

areas for improvement helps to build a players

confidence while still providing further areas to

develop. E.g. “You rise the sliotar to a really nice height

when taking a free, I’d like to see you follow through in the

direction of the target but you have a very good grip on

the hurl at full length”.

• Design some skill-based stations that are available for

players to get extra practice before and after training.

Autonomy can also be incorporated here by asking

players what skills they feel may need extra practice.

• Celebrate notable improvements for individuals and

the group.

• Incorporate some ‘basic’ or ‘easy’ drills about once per

week. This helps players feel they are successful at

something. This is especially helpful when sandwiched

by more complex skills or games as players can be

reminded that they struggled with the current skills or

drill when they first began and have now mastered it

and the same can be done for the current skill.


Known as the state of being related or connected and can be

a little bit harder to identify in a group. It’s often known as

the unique bond between a group of players and may take

quite a bit of time for groups to fully integrate with each

other. This connection can be between the group of players,

between the coach and players or between the players and

the wider club/county community. A group of players that

feel a closer bond derive greater enjoyment from success

and are more supportive of each other when they lose. They

are also more likely to put in greater effort during matches

and training, and make a greater effort to attend all team

events. When players and coaches feel more connected they

are likely to seek out honest feedback (in both directions),

demand higher standards of each other and enjoy time

spent at training. Players who feel more connected to their

team and wider community also derive greater enjoyment

from victory and are more likely to stay involved in the

sport for a longer period of time, often well past when

their playing careers have ended. Feelings of relatedness

between players, coaches and the wider community tend to

develop within interactions focused on showing interest in

the players as individuals, their lives outside of the sport and

learning what type of feedback they best respond to. Some

strategies that can be used to develop relatedness among

your group of players are:

• Make time for players to connect during training

sessions or when going to games. Having some food

after training or games provides an opportunity for them

to congregate and chat over tea, sandwiches, yogurt,


The shared playlist mentioned above for autonomy can

also help players to connect over some shared interests

in genres of music.

• Playing internal games based on smaller regions of the

town or parish can help to bond players together and

with their wider community.

• Ensuring you speak to all players once a fortnight about

something not related to Camogie. School, college, their

job or any other interests you discover they have.

• Organising events that allow the players to bond as a

group without a specific focus on Camogie such as a

trip to a local beach, a local adventure centre, or a group

fundraiser for the club or charity.

Incorporating SDT In Your Own Way

Many of the suggestions outlined above would suit my own

philosophy and coaching style. If you wish to implement

self-determination theory into your own coaching practices

then it’s important that you trial some strategies that fit with

your own style and methods. Some simple methods such as

anonymous questionnaires to gather feedback from players

helps them feel like they’re involved in the coaching process

and therefore have greater autonomy. Identifying potential

leaders in a leadership group and having them interact with a

certain group of players, especially when integrating younger

players into a panel can help to develop both relatedness and

autonomy if they’re given specific responsibilities throughout

the season. Focusing on certain skills or aspects of play and

encouraging the team to ‘master’ these specific aspects also

develops a higher level of perceived competence in their own

ability and is likely to transfer to more confident performers.

Focusing on aspects that are largely within the players own

control also helps to develop higher levels of competence as

opposed to winning matches, especially in younger players

when mismatches in ability are more likely. Trialling your own

strategies with an open mind and a willingness to adapt and

evolve over time will lead to more bought-in, engaged and

confident athletes who are likely to garner more enjoyment

and stay involved in the sport for the longer term.


Inspire to play,

empower to stay

By Peter Casey

People form a lot of their opinions from the world of

professional sports. They often become fascinated

with the idea of finding the next Rory McIlroy, Tiger

Woods, Lionel Messi, Angela Downey and Gemma

O’Connor. In my job – coaching in primary schools - we are

often asked “who the next superstar is going to be?” or “I

bet you can really spot the talented children”. The truth is

that there is no way of predicting the future. Not alone is it

a wasted exercise it is also a dangerous exercise. It leads to

two things – elitism and exclusion.


A lot of papers and books have been written on the idea

of nature versus nurture. While some can argue the point

that good genetics are important, most articles suggest

that opportunity is far more important. When we coach

we shouldn’t discriminate between children. The primary

school curriculum states that all activities must involve

100% of the children 100% of the time. This enables

every child to participate in all classes including Physical

Education, where they play and learn. In a Primary school

all children should get an equal opportunity. That could

happen but there are always ways of causing exclusion –

competitions, teams, captains etc.

The things that cause exclusion to happen are usually really

worthwhile activities that also cause so much good to

happen. They often reward effort and hard work, promote

practice and devotion to improvement and help a group of

children to feel part of something special. In small schools,

a team can often consist of everyone in 5 th and 6 th class.

That can be a really special where everyone is needed.

However in larger schools, a team may only consist of a

tiny percentage of the class. A lot of children are omitted

because they are perceived not good enough.

Fear plays a big role in the growth of elitism. People are

often afraid that their talented players won’t develop

properly if they are allowed to play with the “not so good

ones”. Somehow, they feel it would be better to group

these best players together so that they might improve at

a faster rate. There is a logic in that opinion especially for

a sport like Gymnastics where they peak around 16 years

of age. Camogie players should still be improving in their

mid to late 20’s so there shouldn’t be a hurry. So many

other sports plan their futures around the goal of winning

an Olympic medal. They set up high performance training

programmes for an elite few in the hope that it may result in

some success. Their values are based on winning.

The mission statement of the Camogie Association is “To

provide opportunities to enjoy and play Camogie asa

vibrant part of the Gaelic Games Family.” One of the main

values of the Association is to “maximise participation”. We

are an amateur organisation. We don’t need to find the next

superstar because that isn’t part of our values system. Of all

the children who join a GAA club an average 10% of those

go on to play on their clubs first team. Of that 10%, 3%

play senior inter county. It is a very small number and it will

continue to be. If our main focus is on senior inter county,

we exclude the vast majority of players. However when

we commit ourselves to the development of the games in

every school and club and endeavour to provide a games

programme for all people who wish to play then we will fill

our pitches the games will be healthier as a result.

Camogie has huge potential for growth and while there are

vibrant Camogie areas, there are also vast regions where

little or no hurling or camogie is played. It doesn’t have

to remain that way. In Co. Clare where I work a couple of

new clubs like Kilkee/Belaha have established. While it is

everyones dream in these clubs that one day they would

become like Slaughtneil or Milford, there is a far bigger

story being told because of the opportunity young children

get from the existence of the club.

Young people need to belong more today than ever before

in the worlds history. There is so much emphasis on the

need to be famous in youth culture. Many teenagers don’t

care what they are famous for as long as they are noticed.

Most sporting organisations only target the most talented

players. In the USA nearly all people give up sport –American

football, basketball, baseball, ice hockey- when they fail to

reach a high level. The Camogie Association can offer an

opportunity to all young people to belong, to be part of a

group and to gain recognition by wearing the colours of a

club or school. Many clubs are playing their part in reducing

exclusion by fielding extra teams in competitions. The

youth of today need more of these outlets where they can

feel comfortable playing without the pressure of having to

be at the highest standard.

Player develop at different rates. Development is nonlinear.

That is why we see so many players emerging in their

20’s who may have missed out on county minor or county

under 21. Kilkenny’s Shane Prendergast got his first start in

the 2015 All-Ireland final at the age of 29. Unfortunately

many others have setbacks along the way, predict their

own future and drop out from Sport completely. That is a

choice that they are entitled to make. However as coaches

we have a duty to minimise dropout by promoting inclusion

wherever possible.

The Swedish Football Association have come up with the

slogan “as many as possible for as long as possible”. They,

according to the head of one of their regions, have taken

the decision to abolish their “district elite” teams. “When

we took this decision for the sake of the children, it was a

very easy decision. Our mission is not to exclude children

and young people”. They discovered that bringing players

into elite squads at an early age wasn’t always beneficial for

that player. The same often applies to the GAA. Making a big

deal about a 13 or 14 year old boy or girl, who still has a long

way to go – physically, mentally and socially is a dangerous

exercise. These players shouldn’t be put up on a pedestal.

We cannot predict what the future will hold for them.


Coach Education

& Continuous


By Paul O’Brien

It is that time of the year where teams have put their

plans in place for 2018 and hopefully a long season

ahead. It is the time of good intentions and the best

of ideas for what will unfold in the coming months

before letting the excitement unfold over the summer. We

lay out the best of plans and have great intentions but do

we always follow them through to their culmination. We

often hit stumbling blocks along the way and by god the

stumbling blocks come in many forms.

“Improvise, Adapt, Overcome” is a much lauded mantra of the

US Marines. Coaching and managing teams is very much a

case of this. Over the course of the next few months, things

will not always go as planned and you will be presented

with problems that need addressing. As a coach or manager

you will need to be able to deal with situations differently to

how you previously dealt with them and the same problem

dealt with the same way could equally result in a different


A mentor who is continuously looking to improve is likely

to be best placed in dealing with the varying issues that

present themselves in the coming months. Here are a few

small ideas that could be beneficial to you in the next

twelve months and could be the small percentages that we

often hear are the difference between winning and losing.

1 Formal Coach Education. While we all think we

have a good understanding of what is required

to be a successful coach or manager, there are so

many elements and the Camogie coaching pathway

provides the framework to get a solid understanding

of the many aspects that are required to be a highly

functional coach or manager.

2 Keep a diary. It might sound very basic but it will

help you in looking back at how things went during

the year in training sessions or dealing with players.

Be critical of yourself in it and challenge yourself on

the smallest issues, thus allowing for their frequency

to be reduced as the year progresses.

3 Read a book. There are many great sports books

and other books out there that can help you in the

functioning of your set up. They don’t have to be

camogie or even GAA books. Look into other arenas

to see how things that are working there can be

transferred into the meeting rooms, dressing rooms

or Camogie fields to enable you to improve.

4 Coaching workshops. Get to one or more of these,

they are becoming far more frequent and are often

poorly attended. I know the Camogie association are

looking to run a number of these during the year, with

some great and varied topics which looking at the

tutors will be excellent. There are also many others

being run on the hurling side of things that can be

easily transferable.


5 Watching Games. Many times we watch sport we

often disengage and just watch for the pieces of

brilliance or the moments of suspense and drama.

There is often way more in watching a football, rugby

or basketball match that can be transferable to our

own code and can give us the chance to make a

gain in a certain area by using a technique that has

been successful in another sport, as primarily a lot

of invasion team sports can learn massively of the

thoughts of coaches in other codes.

6 Training sessions. If you can endeavour to go

and coach another age group in the club or do a

session for a friend in another club. There are certain

differences within each team dynamic and being able

to appreciate and understand these are critical to

making subtle adjustments within your own team.

7 Mentor Reviews. These are often undertaken at the

end of the year and are often shaped by the outcome

of the last game of the season. Can you do them

more regularly and at stages in the year when real

substance can be taken from them? They can be

invaluable if done in an open and honest format.

8 Coach mentoring. You would be surprised at the

willingness of coaches within your club or even

outside to come and assess what you are doing and

give honest feedback on what they felt went well

or not in a given match or training session. An open

dialogue here is critical and massive learning can

take place.

So while at times we may just look to drive forward with

our own ideas and personal views despite evidence that

suggests it may not always be the best course of action. We

are not dealing with the myriad of problems and struggles

that the US Marines are dealing with but we can always look

to use their mantra. “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.”


Goalkeeping is

just different

By Mark Cooney

Goalkeeping is just different. Everyone says they’re

crazy or they would be mad to play there in the first

place. It’s more of a case of working under pressure,

a different type of pressure. It’s about looking at the

game in a different way.

Whether it be picking out the slither to restart the attack or

be the last player in line to save the shot, over the year’s

goalkeeping has evolved and will keep doing so as the player

demands get higher, quicker and faster.

From been the shot stopping sliotar playing net minder to

the now more inclusive role with new dynamics such as

distribution, sweeping, positioning, and improved physical

conditioning the role of goalkeeper would suggest moments

of madness but ones to be calculated and focused.

Over the last number of years goalkeepers Aoife Murray,

Emma Kavanagh and Sarah Healy have been at the top of

their game for many years along with many other goalkeepers

around the country north and south east and west knowing

the importance of their role in the teams attacking and

defensive structures.

For me personally it’s about doing the simple things well

and the learnings they bring from scenarios in games and

training, positive or negative.

“Dam I forced that puckout, could I have went short’’

“Could be a shot at goal here. Watch my post she is coming

in on my right side, are the backs touch tight’’

The fundamentals of shot stopping, hand eye co-ordination,

aerial ability, game management, communication and safety

are all components of the modern-day camogie or hurling

goalkeeper not to mention speed and agility, sweeping and

the puckout even in its simplicity must be practiced.

It’s about the blend of all the above to maximise yourself

on every aspect of the game.

It’s countless hours on and off the field.

Repetition, repetition, repetition.

You need that mental toughness, that so called edge that

supposedly makes you mad to play on the goal in the first


These are some of the self-talks or observations a goalkeeper

may go through at any stage in a game which is no different to

any other player further out the field in a position specific role.

It makes sense now in the modern game for a goalkeeping unit

to have a coach not only at county but even at club level even

if it’s sporadic as it’s such a position specific role with different

details of attention.


The Assist &

Challenge Model -

More than a Technical

Coaching Tool

By Ross Corbett

Games Based Coaching Model

On the Level 2 camogie coaching course we talk

about the Assist and Challenge Model (illustrated

above) and how we can use this concept within

our coaching to develop our players skills of the

game. What we sometimes neglect is how we can use this

model to develop much more than individual skills. Can we

use the model to develop our environment, can we use it

to develop as a team can we use this away from the field to

help with a players physical or psychological development?

I like to view all aspects of coaching and management as

one big repeating cycle of the assist and challenge model.

During Lockdown 1.0 we all became engrossed in “The

Last Dance”, to me the whole show screamed of assist and

challenge. Was Phil Jackson constantly deciding whether

there was assistance or challenge? Definitely not, but he

allowed his on court leader to lead the process. Think of

Michael Jordan and Steve Kerr, there was a lot of challenge

and it worked for Steve Kerr who came up big to win the

Chicago Bulls the 1997 championship game. Flip that on

its head, Denis Rodman….. a lot of assistance from both

coaches and players. In another Netflix documentary

“Sir Alex Ferguson, Secrets of Success” Ryan Giggs talks

about how he regrets responding particularly well to

Fergusons “hair dryer” treatment(a challenge) in his early

at Manchester United, in other scenes Cristiano Ronaldo

speaks of Fergusons assisting approach in helping to

develop him as player and a person. Assist and challenge in

management? Absolutely.

In Bernard Brogans book “The Hill” he describes a scene

where he is working on video analysis clips with Paul

Mannion in the lead up to the 2019 All Ireland Final.

Bernard is pointing out types of runs and elements of

positioning that he thinks Paul can add to his armory. In

another scene Bernard describes a discussion with Eoghan

O Gara before an in-house game prior to the 2019 All

Ireland Final. Eoghan and Bernard lay down the challenge

to each other to make one last push to reclaim their places

on the 26-man squad. Bernard was not the only one taking

this approach, other examples arise of Jonny Cooper and

Kevin McManamon laying down the challenge to a group

or individual or assisting another along the way. Be it

consciously or subconsciously, had Jim Gavin facilitated

assist and challenge in team building or group culture?



When we think about linking these examples to our coaching/

management scenario, the possibilities are endless.

Take video analysis for example, can we create occasions

of assist and challenge here? Absolutely. The challenge can

be can we cause X turnovers inside our attacking 45, we

can “fuel the will” by making this our challenge. To assist

the team members in meeting the challenge maybe this

requires additional focus on opposition puck outs, work

rate/ tackle count of our inside forwards, support from our

half forwards and so on. This whole process may not happen

exclusively as a group of course, maybe there are some 5

minute 1 on 1 coaching opportunities where a particular

element is assisted be that in reading the goalkeeper or

tackling technique. For other players this 1 on 1 might look

like greater challenge regarding tackle count or turnovers.

We can also view the whole realm of strength & conditioning

as assist and challenge. Some weeks we train harder for

longer or lift heavier in the gym, other weeks we train at

lower intensities or volumes…. the assist and challenge

model wheel is constantly turning.

This is before we even consider the application of the

model in our technical sessions as a means of technical and

tactical development individually and team wise. Maybe

you are moving through this model on a day-to-day basis.

If not, maybe the model is something to think about away

from as well as on the field of play.

The simple corridor conversation on game week can easily

be framed as an opportunity for assistance or challenge.

Think of the player coming of the back of an excellent

performance the week before, can she be subtly challenged

to take her performance to another level again by a simple

question or comment? On the other hand, can a girl who has

struggled last week be assisted through a simple comment

or discussion regarding her next opponent?


The Importance

of Trust

By Anna Marie


As coaches we are always on the lookout for ways

to make our teams more successful, but success

can be defined in a variety of ways; winning

championships, attracting new players, retaining

current players or creating a cohesive team environment.

Jowett (2005) explains that one factor that contributes to

team success is trust and that lack of lack of trust can affect

a team’s focus, performance, and contribute to the loss of a

player’s confidence in the team, the coach, and one another.

Therefore, whether we are coaching children or adults,

county teams or social camogie, we need to develop trust.

coach. However, it’s important to remember that we are all

human so will make mistakes and that’s’ ok too. When we

make the inevitable mistakes, like forgetting the jerseys or

arriving late to an important match warm-up we just need to

take a few minutes to accept responsibility and apologise.

Admitting to mistakes can be difficult as it makes us feel

vulnerable, but it can be this vulnerability that helps us to

build stronger relationships with our players.

For coaches of juvenile players, the Camogie Association’s

Code of Behaviour for players, coaches and parents, clearly

lays out the what each party has the right to expect and the

responsibility to do within their clubs.

How to Build Trust

Communicate your vision for the team

A clear vision for the teams’ future lets them know the

direction in which the team is heading. When coaches

create measurable goals with the team, players can have

an input in and understand what is expected of them and

what they can expect from the coach. Some examples of

goals are listed below:

• To be promoted at the end of the season

• To improve the puck out won/lost ratio by 15% by the

start of the season

• To improve player’s basic camogie skills

• To ensure that every player gets meaningful playing

time in matches

• For players to have fun during training sessions

• For players to have improved their physical fitness

Defining Roles and Responsibilities

If we are to build trust, we first need to be clear on what

players can expect from us and what we expect from them. It

can be as simple as letting the team know that you’ll always

be planned, prepared and on time or early for training and

matches. Or it may be more detailed, explaining the roles

of the head coach, goalkeeper coach, selectors and S and C


Building Confidence

Players need to have confidence that the coach will help

them develop their skills and tactics. Coaches who give

players specific feedback, which is either positive or aimed

at helping them improve, arm them with confidence in

what they are already doing or advice to improve without

embarrassing or demeaning them. Examples of this include:

• Sophie, that was a great catch, you had your eyes on

the ball and protected your hand with your hurley

• Aoibhe, that was a brilliant catch, it was a pity Destiny

was able to hook your strike. What could you have

done to avoid being hooked?

Trust your own decisions and your players within matches.

Often we can become nervous when a match starts off

badly and question our well thought out decisions about

player positions or tactics. But sometimes we just need to

give the players time to settle into the game, particularly

if you are trying a new tactic or have moved a player to an

unfamiliar position. This can be hard to do, especially if you

are hearing criticism from the sidelines or your co-coaches

are also becoming nervous. Think about why you made

those decisions, encourage the players and remember that

if you don’t give the player or tactic a chance you won’t

know if it would have worked or not. That’s not to say that

there are times that you will need to make changes during

a match but try to ensure that you’re making them for the

right reasons and not because you are feeling pressured

into it by spectators.

Broken Trust

Probably the most important thing to remember is, once

broken, trust can be extremely hard to win back. For

example, when a player who has missed several training

sessions, for no apparent reason, is named in the starting

15 it can break the trust between the team and the coach. It

tells players that it doesn’t matter if they turn up to training

or not, or worse, that it’s only important for some but not for

others. To try to avoid these situations, coaches can attempt

to predict issues like this pre-season and include the team

in deciding how they should be handled when they arise.

Best of luck with next season and remember to trust in

yourself as well as your team.

Team Building

Effective team building exercises can raise the levels of

cohesion which Carron et al. (1998) define as “a dynamic

process which is reflected in the tendency for a group

to stick together and remain united in the pursuit of its

goals.” It can be particularly important when players are

transitioning from one age group to another or from minor

to senior.

Team building can occur both in an organic (coming from

behind to win a close game) or manufactured (organised

activity) way, but the key ingredient is authenticity.

Painting the clubhouse can be just as beneficial as the team

weekend away as long as there is unity of purpose and

‘buy-in’ from all stakeholders. Giving the players autonomy

by involving them in all or some aspects of planning the

activity can help to achieve this ‘buy in.’


The Power of


By Peter Casey

I am your constant companion.

I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half of the things you do you might as well turn over

to me and I will do them - quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed - you must be firm with me.

Show me exactly how you want something done

and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of great people, and alas, of all

failures as well.

Those who are great, I have made great.

Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine though I work with the precision

of a machine plus the intelligence of a person.

You may run me for profit or run me for ruin - it

makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place

the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I am Habit”.

This poem teaches us the power of habits. Everything

we do is learned. From the way we stand and sit to

the way we walk and talk, to how we run, jump, kick,

strike, look, listen. The way we react to success and

failure. Most people are distinguishable by their habits.

We can recognise most singers on the radio by their voice,

even when they sing a brand new song. We can recognise

individual hurlers and camogie players by the way they

carry themselves on a field. Even if they get a new hairstyle

or wear a different helmet they are distinguishable by their

own unique style and while some people can copy them,

they can never be them.

One of the biggest coaching tasks is to help players form

good habits. We get our best chance to do this when

players are young. In order to help players form good habits

we need to have good knowledge of technical, physical and

the mental habits that players require to perform well. We

help players identify what their habits are and why they

may need to break old habits or form new ones. Our bad

habits are generally what let us down when we come under

pressure. As coaches we should be aware of our own habits

and how we can change them when the need arises.

William Wordsworth said that “habits rule the unreflecting

herd”. We often hear that we are creatures of habit and that

when we come under pressure we revert to type. That means

we do the thing we have done previously. Great coaches

can help players to replace harmful and wasteful habit’s

with effective habits. So what are the harmful habits and

what can we do to replace them? The most harmful habit

in the world today is the idea that we are helpless. Martin

Seligman the great American psychologist has coined the

phrase “learned helplessness”. Learned helplessness is

when we get put off by early failures in our lives and we

believe that there is nothing we can do when faced with

challenges in the future.


The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said that our

thoughts become our words, our words become our

actions and then our actions become our habits. What we

think and how we think is vital to the formation of habits.

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think

you can’t – you’re right,” If a child thinks that they will never

be able to master a skill of hurling, then they won’t be able

to master it. If they think they can they will. If a coach thinks

a child will never be any good, it is likely that message will

transmit to the child and the coach will be proven right. If

a community believes that their area will never be good at

camogie or hurling, it will be impossible for the games to

thrive. However if a few people could think that their club

could produce good hurlers, start saying it and then put it

into action by organising training sessions, communicating

with others in the parish and beyond, attending coaching

courses and teaching good habits to children then hurling

and camogie should succeed.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with a successful

rugby coach in the hope of developing my own coaching.

The thing that struck me very early in the conversation

was that he was the complete opposite of helpless. He

didn’t utter a negative word. He only spoke about instilling

belief in players and fellow coaches, making training an

enjoyable and hardworking place and avoiding outdated

practices that are not relevant to the game the players play.

In the GAA family we can easily be in a state of learned

helplessness. We can believe that we are powerless and

unable to fend for ourselves. We can live in the illusion

that other people are to blame for our failures. Everyone

can get it from the administrators in Croke Park, to the

county boards, the media, referees and umpires. Many

of us devote a huge amount of time to blaming things

that are way beyond our control. We often hear people

complaining that “the coach doesn’t like me, he never

picks me”, “the referee is biased” and “everyone hates

us”. Very often children receive feedback in their homes

and communities that they are hard done by. This leads to

learned helplessness. The child grows up with an excuse

for everything.

Coaches can have a huge impact on the lives of people in

a community. The interaction between coaches and players

can help these people to develop lifelong skills that they

can use in all walks of life. The biggest skill we can teach

our players is resilience. We teach them resilience by

empowering them. We empower them by giving away some

of our power. We teach them that we trust them to make

decisions, to cope under pressure and not alone to survive

but to flourish.

The final word to the coach I met recently - “sport doesn’t

build character, it tests it”.

The opposite of learned helplessness is resilience.

Resilience is a great habit. Resilience means that when bad

stuff happens I can cope. A referee can make a mistake and

we can still win. A coach may decide not to pick me and I

can use it as a learning opportunity. Resilient people do not

need to be served. Coaches should do their utmost to help

players learn resilience. This might start by always getting

them to put out and pick up cones, count balls before and

after training and provide opportunities for them to deal

with success and small failures.


Ditch the


By Paul O’Brien

A quick google search for the definition of the term “drill”

comes up with the following;

1. ‘Instruction or training in military exercises’

2. ‘Intensive instruction or training in something, typically

by means of repeated exercises’

3. ‘A rehearsal of the procedure to be followed in an


Now for years the language around training has been about

drills, drills, drills. I do not see why a GAA field in the country

needs to be doing anything with the above definitions.

Camogie is an expressive, free and exciting game. We do not

want to completely curb the creativity of our sport, we want

to be able to allow our players to fully express themselves

and showcase their craft and skill.

Drills do not help to build creativity and they actually

curtail decision making capabilities as the decision making

process is removed from them as the coach (I use that term

loosely in this instance) is making all of the decisions for

them with the regimented exercise. We need a situation

where exercises are laid out and at various stages in an

exercise that the player is faced with a choice to make and

she chooses one or the other, it might even be that she is

faced with a myriad of choices and decides to go with one

that leads her down a specific path.


• Skill Performance Exercise – based on the way the

game goes give players the chance to try out a skill

they did not perform well in the game. (10 mins)

• Game – with a condition which tries to get the skill

that was originally lacking to be performed better.

(10 mins)

• Skill Performance Exercise – what was lacking the

second time around in the game is focused on here.

(10 mins)

• Game – The game is played again and hopefully

the two areas which where focused on in the skill

performance exercises have seen improvement. (10


That is a simple way of running a session but it does require

you to be able to think on your feet and set up a skill

performance exercise in limited time based on what is not

going well in the game situations.

Drills look nice and they can appear slick, as the skills

are being performed in a format which is uncontested

and is purely about skill execution. Many coaches

pride themselves on elaborate drills which are like

choreographed ballet sets but this isn’t camogie, camogie

is about making mistakes and recovering from them. As

a coach if you are comfortable in your own skin and you

believe in what you are doing, don’t be fooled by flashy

drills, be comfortable with mistakes galore occurring in

your training session and phases of play breaking down,

with the players ending up learning something different to

what you originally intended.

You are probably tired of hearing about the requirement for

games based training and that drills are outdated. I would

provide the following as a possible manner in which to

approach a training session which will cater for the skills of

the game and any amount of games based activities.

• Warm Up – Ball based, ball to a player, focus on

exploration of the skills and trying new things,

multiple touches and warming the body for the

game of camogie (10 mins)

• Game – Limited rules just playing the game, small

sided with possibly two games going ahead, which

means four teams, so opportunity for three different

games playing each of the other teams. (10 mins)

You may well feel uncomfortable with this manner of a

training session as it puts yourself out there for ridicule if

you make up an exercise on the spot and it doesn’t work

as intended. DON’T WORRY!!!! In a society where we are

often tricked by the flashy new edition or the automated

activities, we are starting to put ourselves out there less in

terms of creativity and taking a chance. The training field

should be place where you feel comfortable to try things

and provide a way for girls to try things in an environment

that welcomes mistakes and cherishes them. We can’t do

this with drills which are, ‘Intensive instruction or training in

something, typically by means of repeated exercises’

“We are starting to

put ourselves out

there less in terms of

creativity and taking

a chance.”


Coaching Pests

By Liam Moggan

It’s not today nor yesterday that I cycled from Ballygaddy

Road Tuam to Griffith Avenue Dublin to meet Bro.

Seamus Crowe for my first teaching job. Tom Lane had

set off earlier in his lorry with other paraphernalia and

dropped them at my brothers flat in Rathmines. I remember

the exact spot where I met him on his return journey. He

beeped. I waved. He beeped more. I waved more. Jaysus, the

excitement of it!

The cycle was no bother. I was in my mid-twenties. I was as

fit as a butcher’s dog. I wanted to do it. The three-speed bike

with the back carrier, the 130 miles, the hours in the saddle

are not principle parts of the story of that heaven-sent day.

Seeing Tom hang out of the lorry and watching Bro. Crowe

laugh in disbelief are incidents beyond my words, but I’ll

never forget them.

The real story is that on that day a seed was planted to cycle

that journey in the opposite direction. I’d set out from Dublin,

cross the country and pedal joyfully down the final 250m of

Ballygaddy Road. That’s the real story of that day. A dream

about another day was created. A process was triggered.

So what’s all this got to do with coaching? A lot really.

There’s a dream within all of us. A passion, a goal, a desire

to do something deeply personal. It rests there out of view,

waiting for a nudge, waiting for encouragement, waiting to

be released. Waiting for a coach. Dreams never go away.

Every child, every adult is a dreamer. They wait, wait for an

invitation, for a moment, for a chance to make their dream

a reality. Coaches are perfectly placed to tap into fertile

minds. Coaching is about helping people transform private

dreams out into the open.

Coaches can be PESTs. They can plan, encourage, support

and give time, time. Coaches are in a privileged position to

execute complex skills. It’s not a role handed to everyone or

made for everyone. It has responsibilities. It has challenges.

Like an old record I repeat the mantra that ‘we coach people,

not sport’. People are the medium ; sport the distraction.

The coach who plans, encourages, supports and gives time,

time is a jewel in any club. They are PESTs of a powerful,

potent kind. They can unearth talent and help develop and

sustain it. I thought I knew what talent was. I looked for

criteria and matched them to a protype that allowed the

talent label be attached. Now I’m not too sure what talent is.

Talent is as much about luck as anything else. Given

encouragement, support and time, most dreams take care

of themselves. Talent is often the good fortune of meeting

someone who offers you the opportunity to play, to enjoy,

to practice, to improve, to take measured steps towards your

dream. Not their dream. Talented players are all around us.

It’s our challenge to unfurl their potential.

I’ve been lucky to meet significant people at significant times.

They helped me progress along a path I was loitering around.

They were PESTs who encouraged, supported and patiently

planned my time as well as their own. Are any of us talented?

Or are we lucky to meet the right people at the right time?

A quarter of a century later the call of Ballygaddy Road still

bellowed. A trip was planned. Cycling into Mountbellew I got

very hungry and very weak. A woman who had closed her

coffee shop for the day gave me two left-over scones. Those

raisin-less scones powered me over the final sixteen miles.

That day she was my Coach, the right person at the right time.

I relied on her. She may or may not have known about cycling,

but she came up trumps with what I needed. When we nail

it, we nail it, for that moment at least! Be a PEST. Tap into

someone’s dream and enjoy many exciting coaching days.

Miles to Run and Promises to Keep


Retention is the

Name of the Game

By Mickey Quigg

What is retention and why is it Important?

Simply put, players who get nothing out of playing the

game, will quit. We shouldn’t expect players to participate

in something, which doesn’t positively impact their life.

Retention should not just be viewed as the same twenty girls

you had the previous season coming back into the team.

Retention should be observed as retaining girls through

difficult age grades, sport having a positive effect on their

lives, new players joining and older players coming back. The

Women’s Sports Foundation’s report “Her Life Depends On It

III” examined data from over 1,500 studies that demonstrate

the importance of sport and physical activity for women

and young girls. The report found that, staying active and

participating in physical activity can prevent chronic diseases

such as obesity and heart disease, and lower rates of

substance abuse. Furthermore, girls will have better mental

health, higher self-image and confidence levels, improved

teamwork and communication skills, increased graduation

rates, and leadership skills that can lead to achievement

opportunities in school and at work.

This can come down to many factors: perhaps the trainings

and matches are too competitive and winning focused –

they are put under too much pressure to perform rather

than enjoy the sport. On the flip side, perhaps your players

are training hard and not being rewarded with game time.

Remember, every player develops at different rates. Brian

Fenton (2018, 2020 Footballer of the Year) of Dublin GAA

didn’t play County Minor until his last year. Orla O’Dwyer

who currently plays AFL for Brisbane didn’t make the

Tipperary County Camogie team or Ladies Football team

until she was 18. Every player needs to be treated equally

and fairly – and given as many opportunities as possible to

develop - if they leave the sport at 14 their development

stops there.

Why do players leave?

Before we look at retaining players, we need to understand

why females leave sport, particularly within a GAA/

Camogie context. Current research on female youth reveals

that having fun, keeping fit, and being with friends are key

motivators for female youth PA participation. Other studies

have shown that internal factors such as confidence,

pressure, embarrassment, or negative self-belief, lack of

female role models, and other hobbies or commitments that

result in a lack of time or preference for sport are the main

barriers for female youth (Farmer. 2018:112). Work and

School commitments can sometimes play a part – however

the main barriers to girls leaving sport can majority of the

time come down to not enjoying the sport or having fun.


Success Indicators

Every coach wants their team to be successful – but what

constitutes a successful year shouldn’t be defined by

winning or losing the Championship. Whether you coach

U6 or Senior, every coach’s aim for their team should

be enjoyment, the development and improvement of

skills, gaining friendships and developing meaningful

relationships, and learning positive life lessons. If we are

conscious of these success indicators our team’s level of

retention will always be high.

Soft Learning

To develop close bonds and emotional relationships,

coaches should observe how they coach and not just what

they coach. Play a game, make it fun, use your imagination

– those are the training activities players will remember.

Consider organising a team bonding day - relationships

between team members are essential on and off the

pitch. So, too, is the relationship between coach and team

member. Are you putting the person before the player?

Coaches should know each player by name, encourage them

with positive feedback and praise, and take notice of the

effort - as opposed to only the outcome. Get to know your

players as an individual – every player needs a different

approach to get the best out of them. Some need a pat on

the back while others need more constructive criticism.

Communicate and observe your players. Take note of what

they are passionate about and interested in, and use this to

relate to them.

Culture is created when values are implemented

consistently. Respect, value, and communication must be

at the forefront of every session. If you are able to involve

a few of these suggestions, you will be establishing an

environment that promotes positivity and security, which

is necessary for development and learning – and this is

where a sense of enjoyment, motivation and satisfaction is


Technical Coaching

The technical aspects of your coaching, in order to ensure

that players enjoy the training, should include players

feeling challenged – and this means games and activities

appropriate to the skill level of the team. In simple terms,

players get better from more touches of the ball. Those

players that practice the most develop their skills to a higher

level. Trainings should reflect this - plenty of ball work

should be incorporated while queues or lines of 6 players

should be non-existent. Games and games-based scenarios

in training involve more decision making, the application of

skills in a pressured environment - and enjoyment too.

Reflection, Education and Research

The best coaches never stop learning. They are asking

questions and gaining more knowledge to become the best

coach they can be. There are so many elements of being a

highly functional coach and the Camogie coaching pathway


provides the framework to get a solid understanding of

this. Every coach should have their Foundation or Level 1

Coaching Qualification, and there are numerous workshops

both online and in-person now across counties that are

worth signing up for – always bring a diary with you for

notes too. Education is important, but you can always do

your own research too. Research doesn’t need to be always

reading books; it can be looking at resources on camogie.ie,

it can be watching and taking notes from YouTube clips, or

it can be going to watch matches or training sessions. Find

a coach from another club and ask if you can observe their

training session or ask someone else to come and watch

your training with a fresh set of eyes. Never be afraid of

feedback - sometimes all you need is an open dialogue of

what went well and what could be improved. Take time after

every session to reflect on your own effort, performance

and preparation as a coach and have the most positive

effect that you can.

Reflection – Post Training.

- Was I prepared? (When you are organised and

structured before the session starts)

- Did I compliment and encourage every girl by name?

(Players feed off encouragement and will strive to get

better and develop)

- Did I take time to talk to the players outside of a

sporting context? (Players feel valued)

- Was the session enjoyable and fun? (Was the session

game related? Was there a fun game for five minutes

at the start or end?)


As coaches, we are in a privileged position to help people

and players reach their potential – we help them develop

a love for the sport and promote active lifestyles, a sense

of community, and friendships through physical activity.

Farmer (2018:110) notes that “Negative relationships with

coaches promote drop-out from the sport, or participants

are less likely to stay engaged. This is depicted with one

student stating, “if there’s a really mean coach, I’d probably

stop the sport because they’d give out to you”, with

another participant’s reason for disengaging as, “too much

competitiveness amongst girls”.”

There is no bigger compliment as a coach than players who

are running through the gate to join training. “As coaches, it

is our job to teach, of course, but if retention is the goal, it is

also our job to ensure that each player actively wants to play

the game” (Mullan:2021). If you can take one small aspect

of this article and tie it into your own sessions, or even if it

only gives you something to think about and reflect on –

we’ll call that a success. Remember if you have no players

staying involved, you’ve no team to coach – ‘Retention Is

The Name Of The Game’.








Women’s Sports Foundation’s report “Her Life Depends

On It III”




“Let them Play”

By Paul O’Brien

Remembering back to my primary school days,

I cannot remember much of the specific Irish,

English or Maths classes. I do remember after

school hurling in the yard, lunch time hurling in

the field, indoor hurling with a holey sliotar in the hall and

then games we played at yard time that were of our own

creation, playing with a half crushed drinks can or whatever

was available to spark our imagination. That activity was all

supervised by an adult but they allowed activity to flourish

without interfering and putting adult constraints on them.

Kids play out on the road with not an adult in sight and

they make up their own games, create rules, break rules

and change the rules. They laugh, they smile and they have

fun playing the likes of heads & volleys, kerbs, kick the can,

World Cup. Whatever the game, they play it, enjoy it, get

better and learn. The point is that kids want to play and do

activities which bring them joy by allowing them to explore

their imagination and become something more than they

might appear.

Now this isn’t the case in every camogie session throughout

the country but I’ve often watched “coaches” deliver

sessions that could conceivably be completed by robots,

following instructions as laid out by the “coach”. Go to point

A and do activity X, then move to point B and do activity Y.

Why are some coaches trying to quench the imagination

of children by making them follow dull instructions to

conduct pointless drills, drills to improve skills in a manner

that may never be transferable to a game situation.

Kids want to play, so why not let them play. Run your

session in a manner that allows children to have fun and

play. Allow them to carry out the skills of the game, the

many wonderful skills of our great game. Girls are coming

to camogie training for a number of reasons, two of the key

ones are to enjoy the game of camogie and to play with

their friends. So let them do that. Do activities with the girls

that allow them to have fun.

Many of you are saying that if they just play games they

will not improve as players and their skills will not develop.

But here is where your role as a coach is important. The real

duties of a coach is to enable the girls to improve as players

so they can don the club colours and pit themselves against

their counterparts from other parts of the county or country.

The coach needs to create an environment where the girls

are challenged with a chaotic yet comfortable environment

which allows them to develop their various skills; camogie

specific skills and game sense skills. How do you do this?

Can you just “let them play”, set out games which allow them

to use their capabilities to solve problems and scenarios.

When they are struggling to deal with a scenario you need

to point them in the right direction but allow them to steer

themselves. Do not overburden them with adult language

and restrictions.

Can you be a coach who understands when to give exact

directions to the destination and when you can allow the

girl to get lost and try a number of different routes to get

to the destination? Can you assist them by identifying the

problems in skill execution or making game decisions, then

know how to impart this knowledge. And if you need to say

nothing, then say nothing because the girls will play on

their own without you. Let them do it, just “let them play”.


The balancing

act of coaching

By Peter Casey

“A coach is a person who builds competencies

by assisting and challenging players and self to

achieve full potential”

I first saw a similar version of the above quote at a GAA

coaching conference back in 2004 presented by Pat Daly.

15 years later and it plays such a huge part in my coaching

life. Part of our coaching roles includes teaching hurling and

camogie in primary schools. Every single child has unknown

potential. As a coach we can suppress or release that

potential by our thoughts, words, actions and behaviours.

Our main job is to build competencies. Once we develop

competencies, then we can gain a degree of confidence and

with every competency comes higher levels of confidence.


Think about the small child like a smart phone. When

the phone is new, in the box and the battery isn’t

charged there is very little it can do but it has lots of

potential. Once it is charged then it is capable of so

much. In primary schools and also in our club sessions

we can charge the children by getting their hearts

beating faster and their lungs moving during aerobic

exercise. Competencies are like Apps on a smartphone.

A phone can’t do much without apps. If I get a new phone,

the first apps I get are the social media ones. Then I feel

my phone can function. Every time I install a new app I

have more confidence in my phone. Instead of facebook,

twitter and snapchat we can install apps to small children

like the grip, running and agility skills. Mainly this is done

through assisting. Assisting happens when we provide a

really clear demonstration of a pretty easy skill and give

children ample opportunity to practice and learn it. Apps

are grown in children when connections are made in the

brain. The connections that are needed for reading, writing

and maths are the same that are needed for rising, catching

and soloing. Like the teacher in the classroom they are

taught by assisting or challenging.

Children need lots of assistance in the first few years of

sport. It is estimated that 20% of young children survive

in a competitive environment. If we play a 10 a side match

at under 6 or under 8 training, only 4 children will benefit

from it. 80% is a huge failure rate and one that most clubs

can ill afford to allow happen. However once children

develop a range of athletic and skill competencies they can

be gradually introduced to small sided games.

As children get older, getting the balance right between

assistance and challenge is a key coaching skill. If we go for

too much challenge we can cause incompetence, anxiety

and resistance in players whereas if we assist too much we

can still cause incompetence and boredom and very often

players resent this form of approach. There is a term used

when the level of challenge set by a coach matches the level

of skill of the players. This often causes players to achieve

“flow”. It is called the zone of proximal learning.

The zone of proximal learning or the zone of proximal

development occurs when a challenge is pitched just on

the outer reach of a person’s current ability. It is a little

outside what a child can currently do and often it requires

the help of a coach. Most of us probably used this model

unknowingly as children. If we tried to get a certain number

of roll rises in 30 seconds and then tried to beat our score

next time we were in this zone. If we tried to strike a ball

through a small target or take a ball hit at pace on first touch

or tried to get a certain amount of ball strikes off a wall in a

time we were on the zone of proximal learning.

Using this coaching model can really help increase the level

of effort and concentration from players. It also causes a

level of excitement and is guaranteed to increase the speed

at which players play. It helps players to think about mastery

rather than winning, which they have no control over. Most

video games use the zone of proximal learning to engage

their audience. They start off playing and they aren’t able

to get very far, then they get competent at a certain level

until the challenge increases and the process continues.

American game designer, Raph Koster says “Fun from games

arises out of mastery. It arises out of comprehension. It is the

act of solving puzzles that makes games fun. In other words,

with games, learning is the drug”.

The assistance and challenge coaching model can be used

from nursery children all the way up to county seniors. While

county seniors will require the highest level of challenge,

there are many occasions when they also need assistance.

Like a professional golfer trying to tweak or restructure their

swing or putting stroke, very often a top class camogie player

or hurler often needs to develop a higher level of competency

in a skill. This is not a time for challenge. This is a time for clear

demonstration, explanation, observation and feedback. Very

often the coach has to admit they don’t have the answers but

together with the player they will work it out and reflect on

progress or lack of. Once the new skill is learned then the

coach and player can increase the challenge.

Like other areas of coaching, getting the balance between

assisting a challenging is vital to the environment. When

right balances are struck between skill development and

games, instruction and action, winning and mastery, praise

and encouragement, patience and honesty and participation

and excellence a very special bond can be formed in a

team or coaching environment. When coaches reflect in the

aftermath of training sessions and games, little tweaks can

be made to maintain that balance.


Session planning

By Aisling Kane

It’s that time of year again where we dust of the whistle

and get ready to start the New Year on the right (or left)

foot and get back into action with our teams. Before we

start our training sessions with our players it is important

as a manager/coach we set out the overall goals we’d like

to achieve. These can be individual goals such as skills for

players or overall team goals e.g. what you’d like to have

achieved by the end of the year. By doing this it will make

your session planning easier as the session planners will

be the stepping stones to achieving those goals. As a coach

session planning needs to be a priority. It allows for you as a

coach to be prepared and confident in what you’re delivering

to your players instead of trying to “Wing it”. The best thing

I can recommend to any coach weather you’re only starting

out or you’ve been coaching for 20 years is to get yourself a

hardback notebook to put your session plans in. You can also

write or draw up new drills in this notebook for future use.

This notebook will end up being your coaching bible that you

can always look back on and pull activities/drills from to suit

what you’re looking for. It also ensures all your sessions will

be together and you won’t lose them easily which is what

tends to happy when we write them on individual pages (I’m

sure we’re all a culprit for this!).


Factors to consider when session planning:

1. What are we looking to achieve?

It is important as a coach or manager that we have learning

outcomes for each session. This is what we as coaches

would like to see the players work on and improve during

the session. Our learning outcomes can be based around

the team’s yearly goal e.g. working on the skills we’d like to

learn, improve or perfect, or they can come from a previous

match performance e.g. what we as a team can improve on

based on match specific scenarios. Keeping track of this will

allow the coach to see how much (or how little) they have

worked on various aspects of the game.

2. Players

Before we plan our sessions it is always good to know

roughly how many players will be at the training session.

This allows for sufficient planning to take place to ensure

our players get as many touches as possible in the various

activities/drills and will allow for the coach to modify the

session to suit the numbers. Knowing your players is a

major factor when session planning. Knowing their abilities

of what they can and can’t do is key. This will enable you to

create session plans that will run smoothly. Ensuring you

keep your activities/drills age appropriate is a key element

too. We all have to learn how to walk before we can run.

The same principle applies when coaching our skills. We

need to ensure what we are delivering is age appropriate to

ensure our players get the most out of it.

3. Location/Duration

As a coach we need to take into account the location of

which our session will take place. This could possibly vary

from training session to training session or you could be

one of the lucky teams who are always based in the same

place. It is important to know how much space you have to

use for your session so you can plan your layout in advance.

It might not be possible to work on some skills or games

if you don’t have the space. You may need to take into

account the surface that is being used e.g. Astro turf, Grass.

Is the location easily accessible for players and coaches?

Are their toilet facilities if needed? Taking this information

into account will allow you to inform the parents/players

with the relevant information needed.

By looking at the duration of your session it will allow you

as a coach to plan how much time will be spent at each

drill/activity to ensure players aren’t getting fed up with the

drill/activity. Depending on the age you are working with

will also impact the duration of each drill/activity as their

attention span is lower the younger they are.

4. Adaptions/Progressions

Having your adaptions and progressions included in your

session plan will allow you to adapt the skill or activity

based on your players’ abilities. Some of our players’ can

pick up new skills very quickly and others not as quick. It

is important that we challenge all of our players’ weather

that be progressing or adapting a skill to suit their needs.

It’s about coaching the players not just the sport. The main

outcome of our sessions is the overall development of our

players. This means starting out with the basic skill, adding

in some movement and finally adding the pressure. A quote

that sticks with me since I’ve heard it is “Get it right, Get it

fast, Get it fast under pressure” by Martin Fogarty

How can you adapt and modify to ensure each player can

perform the skills of the game. We can use the S.T.E.P.R.

model to modify any activities or drill by changing one of

those five elements.







5. Reflection/Feedback

After you complete a session it is always a good idea to

reflect on how the session went. This doesn’t have to be

a huge essay picking apart the whole session. Perhaps

1-3 sentences on what worked well, what didn’t and what

could you do differently. This will enable you as a coach to

critically analyse your session to improve the drills/activities

to make them work better for the next time. If something

doesn’t work well with your team it’s great to make a note

of it so you don’t make the same mistakes again if you run

the drill/activity again. Feedback from your players can be

a huge benefit to any coach. Again depending on the age

of the team you’re coaching. It is always great to hear what

they liked in the session to try and incorporate (as best as

you can) the different types of drills/activities which they

enjoy to keep our sessions enjoyable for our players. This

leads me to my final point.

6. FUN!!

It is important to incorporate fun elements into our sessions

no matter what age you’re coaching. If your players are

having fun they will enjoy the session and will continue to

turn up to training week in week out. If your players aren’t

enjoying themselves they won’t want to come to training

and your player retention will decrease. Fun elements can

be brought into any training session in either warm ups, a

bit of competition during the session, modifying games by

using different equipment and Rules. If your players aren’t

enjoying themselves they won’t want to come to training

and your player retention will decrease.

As a coach there are many things we can’t control! Therefore

we need to get good at controlling the controllables! Such as:


• Being organized (Session plans, equipment)

• Being punctual (Arriving early)

• Effort (Giving it your all)

• Good body language (Don’t let your standards drop

because of other peoples actions)

• Mentality (Being open and willing to learn)

• Leadership (Setting standards for others to follow)


Scoring is the

name of the game

By Peter Casey

“I’m sure we’re not going to get everything our own way in

certain games and we may not hit 30 points on any given

day, but that’s our target every day.”

Darragh Egan, Tipperary hurling coach

There was a time in the mid 2000’s when the Cork

senior hurling team scored an average of 20 points

in every big game. They won the All Irelands in

2004 and 2005 and they were pretty satisfied that

20 points would be enough to win them games. When Clare

won the 1995 All Ireland final the final score was 1-13 to

2-8. Today in championship hurling that could easily be a

half time score. In the recent Leinster final, Kilkenny led

Wexford 0-15 to 0-14 at the half way mark. Wexford had

9 scorers in the game and Kilkenny had 8. In the Munster

final between Limerick and Tipperary, Limerick hit 1-11

in the first half and 1-15 in the second period. They had

8 scorers in total while the defeated Tipperary had 9. On

any given day a team who wins a championship game will

likely need at least two players to score 4 points from play

while their free takers will have to have a 90% success rate

from inside their range. The score required to win a match

is constantly increasing.


In Camogie we’re seeing similar trends. In recent

championship matches, Waterford scored 2-14 against

Tipperary but still lost the game. In a 60 minute game that

would seem a very good total to hit and up to very recently

should be enough to win most games. However the climate

is changing as in the hurling championship and scoring is

a big currency. Limerick hit 1-18 in their victory against

Wexford while Kilkenny scored 2-17 against Offaly. Cork

have scored 3-19 and 2-20 in their victories over Clare and


So what does this mean for Camogie coaches and coach


There are a whole range of facets required to be a high

scoring team. A really high degree of technical proficiency in

a range of skills is a must. Brian Cody always said that a good

first touch buys you time. Most players need a certain amount

of time and space to score and if possession can be gained

directly by a catch or after a good first touch, the player has

a better chance of having that time and space. Some players

are good strikers from their favourite side which is a great

start but players who are able to score from right or left have

more options available to them. Habits that cause slowness

are always punished by the good teams and all players

need to have days when they learn that their habits need to

change in order to be a more effective player. Being able to

swing inside the body and to shorten the grip when space is

reduced is vital to being a high scorer like Beth Carton, Niamh

Mulcahy, Cait Devane, Ann Dalton and Denise Gaule.

Team play and decision making are two other essential

elements to scoring. Very often when players are in

possession there is a very low possibility of scoring and

a player needs to get the ball to a team mate in a better

position. Kilkenny’s mantra under Brian Cody is always that

the player in the best position gets the ball. This requires

players to get to scoring positions before they gain

possession and an awareness of team mates by the player

in possession. Cian Lynch is the most consummate team

players. In 2018 he assisted in so many of Limericks scores.

One of the biggest challenges facing coaches is to overcome

the psychological barriers to scoring. Frequently we see

players practicing shooting from outside their range and

they end up in a constant pattern of missing scores. Coaches

are often tempted to do the same thing. They set up scoring

drills and activities in locations on their pitch where many

players are unable to score from. The biggest negative

factor about this type of set up is that players become

accustomed to missing scores with no consequences and if

this is allowed to go unnoticed or uncorrected, players will

freely miss scoring opportunities in matches and believe

it is ok. A far better outcome would be where coaches set

up scoring challenges from a range where players should

score from and where a winner is rewarded and players

strive to be good scorers. Some players will still miss due

to the pressure of the challenge and that is where coaches

can intervene.

Golf psychologists tell us that players should experience

successes in every practice. A lot of top golfers spend hours

practicing putting from inside 3 feet. Hurlers and camogie

players would gain a lot more confidence scoring from

inside 25 metres than missing from 65. Dave Alred who

was Johnny Wilkinsons kicking coach and is now coach to

2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinairi as well as the

Queensland Rugby team has a number of really interesting

online videos and podcasts about how he coaches kicking

and putting. There is probably a real need for teams at the

highest level to engage a striking coach and at lower levels

a need for our coaches to develop their coaching of striking

as well as all the other roles they have to carry out.

Players can make huge strides when they are given the

right instruction and coaching or allowed to be free in

themselves. Graeme Mulcahy from Limerick is one player

who has transformed his game to now be a consistent high

scorer for his team. It would be very interesting to learn

what changes he has made to his training and practice in

recent years. One thing is for certain. It is better to practice

scoring than to practice shooting.






The Camogie Association | Official Website

Twitter @OfficialCamogie

The Camogie Association (@officialcamogie)

Instagram photos and videos

OfficialCamogie - YouTube

The Camogie Association would like to sincerely thank all the contributors

who voluntary took time out to put each article together and their continued support

of Coach Education.

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully !

Ooh no, something went wrong !