THE Northern Ireland Executive released their so called ‘road map’ out of lockdown on Tuesday past, and there is continuing hope that a full GAA season will be able to be completed without interruption. Its release gives teams a stronger sense of purpose to the various training they are doing individually at present.
The one glaring issue surrounding the release of Stormont’s road map is that they have done so without providing any exact dates for each of the phases described. Not having any definitive dates has left people weary and frustrated. The information they have provided is great but a plan without dates is just a dream!
With no decisive dates to factor into their training schedules, it makes it more difficult for managers/coaches to plan for the coming season, but it is not impossible. With the rough date of post-Easter for a return to some form of on-field play, loose plans can still be put into place. Even so, until a definitive time-frame is released managers and coaches cannot set their plans in stone.
Moving back to football, these proposals make managers and coaches turn their focus toward planning what to do whenever they return to the pitch for both training and games.
They will be looking to create a team cohesion between their players in a bid to generate a playing chemistry so they can execute their game systems effectively.
They will want to sharpen their forwards’ scoring ability to transfer shots to scores and they will want to work on the defensive structure with the purpose of reducing the number of scores conceded.
Managers and coaches will typically create their training sessions with a heavy focus on the outfield players. The attackers, defenders and those that play within the middle third will all have drills, exercises and game-plans that will incorporate them in their execution.
The goalkeeper, however, can be very easily forgotten about whenever managers and coaches are preparing sessions for their team, but it is essential that managers and coaches alike incorporate their goalkeeper position into their team training schedule.
Collective team training sessions are the rehearsal for the games at the end of the training week. Just like a play, they need to be rehearsed on a weekly basis.
There are no managers in the modern era of Gaelic games that would rock up to a game with little to no game-related training under their belt.
Just like a play has ‘acts’ the game has four acts with the introduction of the water break essentially dividing the game into four quarters. And each minute or attack within these four acts are the ‘scenes’ that are played out by the actors/players.
These ‘scenes’ that happen during games need to be rehearsed regularly by teams during their training sessions to ensure they can perform them successfully. Every ‘act’ should have a purpose or an aim that can be measured and evaluated during the water break. When managers and coaches are drawing up their training schedules to practice these match day scenarios, they must include scenarios that are related to the goalkeeper at least once per week.
Of course, the most obvious goalkeeping scenario for managers/coaches to practice collectively as a team are the restarts, but even they can be neglected in the best laid plans. They can be worked upon for a few weeks and then can be forgotten about very easily, but they are the perfect example of a game-related situation that predominantly involves the goalkeeper.
Restarts, like all goalkeeper situations, need to be practised regularly throughout the season with some being practised more than others depending upon the opposition in that week’s game.
Some of the goalkeeper situations that the manager and their coaching team may wish to consider whenever they are making plans for their collective team training include:
– Shots that drop short: whether from play or dead balls, it is important to recreate these in training and have a collective understanding of what the defenders and goalkeeper will do in this situation.
– Building out from the back: after regaining possession within your own 21-metre line it is important for teams to practice working the ball out of this area into the opponents half efficiently and especially under a full press so that they can develop a calmness under that type of pressure.
– Saved rebounds: whenever the goalkeeper makes a save and the ball rebounds back into the play it is vital for the team to react and anticipate accordingly. Replicating these situations in training and discussing/rehearsing ‘what ifs’ can be game-changing.
– Sweeper keeper: if you have a goalkeeper who has the ability to play as a sweeper until defenders can filter back to take over, it is essential that this is practised regularly during training sessions/games to ensure the defensive unit becomes accustomed to the ‘keeper playing in this manner.
– Sideline balls inside 21-metre line: any team looking to be successful should have some form of move/system for dealing with these situations. Just like a restart, it can be coordinated or spontaneous but again must be practised collectively.
– Square droppers: if teams are behind and need a three-pointer, they usually flood the goalmouth and try to score a goal by dropping the ball into the crowded square in the hope of stealing a goal. Incorporating this into the training program can become important especially during the knock-out rounds of championship.
– Dead ball: whether it be opposition frees, 45s, penalties or sidelines it is vital to practice what to do as a team in these situations with particular focus on the goalkeeper and the role they need to play in these situations.
– Goalkeeper lost to red/black card or injury: it is also prudent to prepare for a situation like this. Having rehearsed this in training creates less of a negative effect psychologically than not having trained for it.
The season is coming, and teams want to be ready for whenever it starts. Managers and coaching will be making their preparations behind the scenes by drawing up their game-plans and creating a training plan to implement these game plans using drills/exercises that mirror the game and how the manager wants their team to play it.
It will be important for all managers to include situations that heavily involve the goalkeeper putting the team into these situations regularly but most of all making sure that they are ‘Game Related!’