The weekend of Sat 16th and Sun 17th November saw three of our GCDC members, Mike Barnett (Club LGFA Coordinator, club coach and county U/14 development coach), Conor Keenan (Vice Chairperson of Hurling and club coach) and Liam Howlett (GCDO, Strength and Conditioning Coach, club U/16 coach and county ETS U/14 coach), put in a weekend of learning, in the fine setting of the Olympia Leisure Centre in Belfast.

Ramey Adams, who coached Liam to his Strength and Conditioning certification was the course tutor. The focus of the weekend was on “Physically Developing the Youth Athlete”. The main talk was on “Youth Maturation”, learning when to implement proper exercise patterns and routines throughout a child’s development. There was a major focus on curriculums for gymnastics fundamentals, power, speed, agility and strength training, as well as plyometrics. These were thought provoking and encouraged great discussion amongst course attendees. Our main aim was how to take these skills and techniques and implement them for preparing our athletes for our team sport.

On the course were full time coaches from the world of soccer, athletics and rugby, full time personal trainers and gym owners. We were carrying the flag for GAA coaches! The course content was designed for the professional audience, so it proved to be challenging to keep up with the fast pace and moving from theory to practical. Many games were introduced with the purpose of training the “Fundamental Movement Patterns” of squatting, hip-hinging and lunging. These are everyday manoeuvres that we take for granted, but in the field of strength and conditioning are vital to implement, repeat and perfect and eventually load, to make a more robust athlete, with the aim of reducing susceptibility to injury.

Preparations are now at an advanced stage for the “Club Athletic Development Programme”, which is moving in to its 2nd year.