JOHN McMAHON: Facilities v Personnel

OVER the last 10 years, the development and growth of club facilities around the country has exploded. The addition of new gym facilities for most clubs now has become the norm with state-of-the-art equipment, layout and buildings.

Serious investment, time and expertise has been utilised within clubs to deliver these high-quality facilities for their teams and members.

The new facility is built and the pride and excitement from club players and members to get in and use this is at an all-time high.

In this article I hope to highlight some thought-provoking questions for clubs to consider so their new facility can be utilised fully.


For me the biggest question must be – who is responsible for delivering the training programs to our players? Do we have anyone within the club who can take on this responsibility? Do we need to seek professional advice?

I have outlined below the two professions you may wish to consult. Important to distinguish the differences between a strength and conditioning coach and a personal trainer.

Strength and conditioning coaches/athletic trainers

These professionals are multiskilled health care specialists with undergraduate and, often, graduate degrees in athletic training. They must maintain national certification. They work in various settings, including sports, athletics and are experts in athletic development injury prevention and rehabilitation.

Personal trainers

These professionals are experts in physical fitness and exercise. They combine that expertise with interpersonal and motivational skills to guide you through exercises to safely achieve and maintain physical fitness.

Our players and members are the most valuable commodity we as a club have. Please ensure that we have responsible, professional personnel looking after them & delivering age appropriate specific training.


Drawing up a weekly timetable for usage for all players and members is key. Do you envisage the use of your facility for large team training sessions where blocking out certain days/times is required?

If we take a few steps back in time for a moment and look at the planning stage of the new facility design – how did you see the usage? It is a fundamental question.

Large group/team training sessions requires a gym layout and design to maximise space and session flow. It’s very different to an open gym were individuals/small groups are coming and going as they please.

So, before a brick is built ensure you have a clear vision on the best way to utilise your new gym facility to maximise its usage.

Youth Athletic Development

Without doubt the area I am most passionate about is youth athletic development. It’s an area I have the most professional experience in and the best track record.

So how can this new gym facility be utilised as part of your youth athletic development pathway in your club? Firstly, the person of responsibility delivering any youth athletic programs needs to be professionally qualified to do so. Secondly none of your youth team players should be using the gym unsupervised.

Beginning with foundational, fundamental movement patterns, building that movement competency of our youth players in the gym is key. Developing a systemised training model to roll out to all your youth teams is critical.

Finally developing a culture of enjoyment for our youth in the gym is paramount.

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