BY THE CAMOGIE ASSOCIATION
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
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
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
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
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
Catching hand doo doo doo doo doo doo
Catching hand doo doo doo doo doo doo
Catching hand 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 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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
• 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.
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,
• 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
• 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
• 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
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.
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
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
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.”
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
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
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
• Skill Performance Exercise – what was lacking the
second time around in the game is focused on here.
• 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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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