GAA turning negatives into positives with online coaching

At a time when sporting events worldwide are either being cancelled or postponed, a department within the GAA is moving in the opposite direction.
GAA turning negatives into positives with online coaching
Peter Horgan: ‘The uptake has been huge. Each session was full.’

At a time when sporting events worldwide are either being cancelled or postponed, a department within the GAA is moving in the opposite direction.

The games development wing of Croke Park has adapted to this period of lockdown and limited movement by bringing forward its coach webinar series which was not due to commence until later in the year.

For coaches, April is not typically a month for upskilling or self-reflection. First and second round county championship games tend to be where the focus lies.

But this is no typical April.

Matches have been postponed, training is forbidden, while WhatsApp, rather than face-to-face conversation, has become the means by which managers interact and keep tabs on their players.

In a bid to help coaches through this period, the GAA, Camogie Association, and LGFA have created a series of coach development sessions, online, of course, which will continue to take place twice-weekly until the end of April.

The line-up is not exclusive to the GAA community, with Leinster Rugby senior coach Stuart Lancaster taking tomorrow (Tuesday) evening’s Q&A.

On Thursday, the webinar will be split between performance analyst with the Tipperary senior hurlers Damien Young, coach with the Dublin senior hurlers Cliodhna O’Connor, and IRFU athletic development coach Orlaith Curran.

Later in the month, coach educator Liam Moggan and former League of Ireland manager Shane Keegan will both take to the virtual stage. Paudie Butler, Niall Corcoran, and Dublin GAA games development manager Gerard O’Connor are just some of the names who have already presented to full houses.

“The uptake has been huge,” GAA education officer Peter Horgan said.

“We have been operating on Microsoft Teams and the initial platform we were using within that had a limit of 250 people per event. Each session was full, but we’ve since moved to a different platform within Microsoft Teams with a much bigger capacity and that has led to much bigger numbers registering for these coaching webinars.

“These webinars and Q&A series were in our plans, but circumstances have brought them forward in time.

“What we are trying to do is put together something sustainable for coaches that they can engage with over a period of weeks, something that allows them to keep their eye in from an education perspective. It is not part of the mandatory mainstream coaching programme, it is supplementary.

“You don’t have to be a GAA coach to register for any of the webinars, we have seen a number of coaches from various sporting backgrounds engage with the programme.”

Regular coaching activity may have ground to a standstill, but the webinars are driving home the message that coach-player interaction should not also be paused. “Brendan Harper, one of our first speakers, who would have been heavily involved with Dublin and Tyrone teams over the years, spoke about the opportunity that presents itself now.”

Horgan added: “He said that after games, coaches might be disappointed in a particular player, but Brendan asked the question, how sure are we that that player knows exactly what you want him to do.

“He encouraged coaches to avail of this downtime to speak to all players, to maybe have a discussion about what is happening in the team, the role you want them to fulfil.”

Horgan added “Very often, education programmes are organised and happen outside of when coaches are at their most busy or are even engaged with their teams. I think one of the things that could be really powerful for coaches is if they start reflecting on what it is they do in the time they are doing it.

“So one of the things we are looking at doing, broadly within coach education, is to bring those two things closer together so that coaches might be able to reflect on their practice and reflect on their games and training sessions during the time they are involved.”

The GAA realises the importance of keeping its membership connected by whatever means possible.

“In trying to meet HSE guidelines by way of isolating, people do need connection. They need engagement with their peers. What we are attempting to do is to facilitate that engagement. Sessions that try and support coaches, personnel, and players can only be for the better.”

Following on from this month’s coaching webinars, a four-week online programme will be rolled out across May targeting those involved with talent academies.

“One of the recommendations from the talent academy and player development report was to provide a specific training programme for talent academy coaches.

“That would be starting in May for all the coaches of an U15 hurling or football squad.

“We will be covering a lot of content there with regard to player development.”

Horgan concluded: “We are running a lot of training for personnel, whether that is full-time GDAs, GPOs or Games managers. A lot of that has been driven by the provinces and they have put together their own schedule of training events.

“We are using the opportunity to upskill across a variety of sectors, be it IT, management, communications, or games development.”

Registration for tomorrow’s chat with Stuart Lancaster can be done through the following link: https://learning.gaa.ie/gaacoachwebinar2020

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.