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Michael Gerard Doherty – Going bonkers with

By Michael Gerard Doherty

Yes…you read that correctly! I promise that this is still a Gaelic Games underage coaching column. The format of this week’s article will be slightly different as I try to include six conker themed practice games stations. Firstly, give parents a few days’ notice and ask them to go collecting conkers for this week’s session. The benefits of this kind of session have already begun! Families spending quality time outdoors together. Kids scanning for conkers and throwing sticks for target practice. Add to that the buzz of opening the shell to find the biggest conker yet, ready to be compared with your team mates come the next session.

Fundamental Movement Skills: Agility, Balance, Co-ordination, Throwing & Running

Technical Skills: Handling, Travelling (bouncesolodribbling) Hand Passing, Kicking, Striking

Equipment Required: A minimum of 6 x bibs, 12 x cones, 6 x camán, 6 x buckets, 12 x ‘First Touch’ (or lighter) footballs & sliotars and 6 x hoops

Zone 1 Feed the Bucket

56 circle round each bucket. Players underarm throw their conkers into the bucket. They take one step back each time they ‘Feed the bucket’ See which player in the team throws their conker into the bucket from the greatest distance.

Progression through age groups:

Decrease size of the bucket

Throw with both dominant and non-dominant hands.

Zone 2 Conker Kicks Pucks

Drop the conker with one hand and try to kick into the empty net to score a goal. Great way for players to think about dropping the ball from the hand on the same side as their kicking foot. Also great for finding sweet spot on foot when kicking. Same idea for puck in the air. Great for finding sweet spot of the bas.

Progression through age groups:

Using short camáns may be good starting point for youngest players.

Kickstrike off both sides.

Scoring goals from greater distance.

Zone 3 Conker Camán Solos

Solo conker on the bos of the camán within the zone. Keep an eye out to avoid collisions with team mates as we see who will keep control of their conker for the longest.

Progression through age groups:

Flat edged conkers can really help beginners.

Flick sliotar from left to right pointed side of the bos.

Zone 4 Walk the Conker

Walk, jog, run out 20 yards bouncing the ball every four steps. After twenty yards there will be a bib with a conker on top. Trail the conker back to the starting point as fast as you can without it falling off the bib

Progression through age groups:

Bounce and solo ball on the way out.​​​​​​​

Put obstacles in place to ensure that players are scanning whilst bouncing soloing.

Zone 5 Conker Hoops​​​​​​​

Handpass conkers (hurlingcamogie style) with one hand through a series of hoops being held at different heights angle by parents coaches.

Progression through age groups:​​​​​​​

Hand pass off left and right hand.​​​​​​​

Parents coaches throw hoops as players aim to handpass through the moving targets.

Zone 6 Rob the Conker Nest​​​​​​​

A nest of conkers sits neatly in the middle of the pitch. Four teams of greedy birds, situated at four corners must run out, snatch a conker and bring it back to their team. The team that collects the most conkers win.

Progression through age groups:​​​​​​​

Players must hop on one foot as they make their way to the nest.​​​​​​​

Players solo conkers back to group with their camán.

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CHILDS PLAY… Playing with conkers develops hand eye coordination

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COLLECTION… Collect conkers now to use in these games

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ACCURACY… Conkers are more than just for putting on strings

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FUN… Watch your childrem have fun with these games

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