JOHN McMAHON: Five key tips

THE majority of GAA clubs are now starting to formulate plans for their pre-season. Coaches and players are looking forward to the season ahead and planning is in full flow.

Here are five key considerations for players and coaches as they approach their preseason planning:

Increasing training load too early

The number one mistake I see players and coaches making is increasing intensity and volume too fast in their pre-season training.

I know you’re eager to dive into it, but the load your body can safely manage after months of downtime is much less than what you could handle mid-season last year.

Starting slowly and building up your training intensity gradually allows your body to effectively adapt to the small load increases without exceeding the ‘maximum’ before something fails and pain starts and you find yourself in rehab.

Regular hydration breaks

When you lose just five per cent of your body weight in water, your sports performance can be reduced by up to 30 per cent.

Even losing as little as one to two per cent is enough to start significantly decreasing your endurance and performance while increasing your risk of on-field setbacks like nausea, vomiting, intestinal problems and more.

Studies show that dehydration also limits your strength and power. So ensure you are taking time to hydrate.Persistent pain

Every season, I see countless injured players who, when asked how long their pain has been present, answer with weeks or months.

If you’re experiencing pain, one thing I guarantee is that it has started for a reason.

Pain is the body’s warning signal that it perceives a threat that something is potentially wrong, and you need to take extra care. When we ignore this message in the hope that it’ll go away on its own – that’s when a lot of serious injuries start, especially when you’re just beginning you pre-season.


As players and coaches, reviewing what did and didn’t work for you during your last season may offer key insights into what you can implement or adjust for this season – and the pre-season is the perfect time to make these decisions.

A key aspect for players is injuries or problems you sustained last season and understanding why they occurred. I often see players battling the same injuries over multiple seasons, despite not showing any symptoms during their off-season. If you identify these injury problems, you can prevent them. But first you need to review them and then seek help and advice from a reputable sports performance physio.


The higher the enjoyment experienced by both players and coaches, the more the players elect to participate and persist in their training and sport.

As coaches sometimes we fixate ourselves on the outcomes all the time. But from my experience coaching players both at county and club level, the more the players enjoy the training environment, the greater their engagement and as a result they exert greater effort.

Ultimately our role as coaches is to maximise the participation, output and effort from our players. So, when planning your field, gym sessions this year, add a little fun and an enjoyment element to the training process.

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