Develop young players’ skills through ‘station breakers’

By Michael Gerard Doherty

OVER the past few weeks we’ve looked at creating the best environment for your young players to thrive. Then we discussed key qualities to look for when assembling your coaching team and ways to maximise parental involvement and interest. Lastly, we urged coaches to spend that bit more time considering how your players feel throughout your sessions and about your club. Now that the core foundations have been summarised, we can describe how a typical practice session may look.

Players at the Nursery – u-7 age groups are very active with generally short attention spans. They crave opportunities to score, chances to form friendships and fun-filled games. Keeping players as active as possible for as long as possible using a mixture of stations and whole group activities can keep the session fresh and flowing with a good tempo. Try to keep queues to a minimum and provide short and precise instructions.

Our typical hour-long sessions would consist of seven stations with groups of no more than six players at each. These stations would have a heavy focus on developing young players’ Physical Literacy and providing opportunities for introducing key technical skills associated with Gaelic games through fun games. Three whole group station breakers (see graphic included) will give the entire group a chance to work together and freshen the ‘conveyor belt’ feel that can sometimes be associated with circuits.

Lastly, we get as many parents involved as possible as we finish up with two of the fun-filled session endings that we shared in last week’s article. A typical 50 minute – one hour long session may look like so:

U-5 – Session Overview

Station 1: Throwing – Underarm bean bag throws with left and right hands.

Station 2: Coordination – Cups & saucers (cones) with left and right hands.

Station Breaker: Animal walks.

Station 3: Evasion – Avoid remote controlled car whilst bouncing.

Station 4: Pick-Up – Roll under hurdle and pick-up races.

Station Breaker: Protect dinosaur eggs.

Station 5: Kicking – Knock down the targets.

Station 6: Bouncing – Relay races.

Station Breaker: Pass to parentscoaches.

Station 7: Creative Station – Create a catching game.

Fun Ending 1: Parent and child relay race.

Fun Ending 2: Rob the nest (throws coloured balls over parents in middle to start).

We would use this session for twothree weeks in a row to allow players to grow in confidence and to gauge their development. As outlined, three stations would have a clear focus on fundamental movement skills and three others on skills associated with Gaelic games.

The following three-week programme could focus on different movement skills and build onadd to the technical skills covered. The seventh ‘creative’ station would be a mainstay of ours. It provides the perfect platform for players to practice and create games of their own that they can showcase to their teammates and coaches. We have also found that our players are creating much more games at home with their parents, siblings and friends since introducing this station.

We can only do so much within the hour or two a week that we share with our players. It is crucial therefore that we use this time as effectively and as wisely as possible. The greatest indication of success is that players and their parents are returning week after week due to the enjoyment that they are getting from your sessions. If this can then further inspire players to continue to find joy in Gaelic games outside of the club setting that’s when we can be satisfied that TRUE coaching is taking place!

My next series will take a slightly different format. I aim to share detailed game overviews that would be suitable for most Nursery – u-7 groups. I will also provide some player and parent focused tips that will add to the learning enriched and caring environment that should be central to development.

For more resources visit @livelearnlovegg on Twitter.

If you would like a FREE pdf copy of our ‘Station Breakers’ graphics, please email us at:

more inform ation or wish to place an order for our NurseryU-7 booklets please visit: or send us an email to the address above.

station breakers 1
station breakers 2

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