By Sean Robinson
FOLLOWING the recent news from the GAA that club football training can now commence, a lot of managers will be writing into the WhatsApp groups, and will be chomping at the bit to get on to the pitch.
It would appear that the club season will be a short season like last year. Therefore, for coaches and players, it is important to plan out the next few months to ensure you are on top of your game.
The first two/three weeks of your training should be used as a base building period. For anyone that has trained consistently, and is in good shape, this preparatory phase will give them a chance to maintain high levels of fitness.
To the contrary, for those that enjoyed the ‘lockdown’, it may be a shock to the system and a wake-up call.
My go-to drill for building a base level would be tempo runs. During these runs, players will work through various speeds, which will replicate some of the speeds involved in a match situation. These runs will also prepare the legs and lungs for higher intensity runs.
Return to play
Every player has had that dream of rising for the ball head and shoulders above the rest, plucking the ball from the clouds, before hitting the ground and exploding forward at pace.
One area you might want to improve is your jump. If you can maximise your power output and improve your jumping technique, you should see the benefits of this on the field of play.
Power in basic terms is strength plus speed/velocity. Power is the product of strength and speed, therefore, athletes that want to increase their power need to work on both sides of the equation.
Some athletes may be naturally inferior on either strength or speed component, so you may want to focus on your weakness, whilst maintaining your stronger components.
How to increase strength
Increasing strength is most commonly achieved by weightlifting. One method to improve strength is by working for multiple sets with a low number of repetitions (three to six). The appropriate weight to improved strength would be 80 percent to 90 percent of your max repetition, otherwise known as your 1RM.
How to increase speed
Increasing speed can be done in many ways, for example:
medicine ball exercises; and
weightlifting using between 20 and 40% of your max/1RM, whilst focusing on fast acceleration.
Plyometric training is a system of learning how to jump and land. These are reactivating exercises for the athletes, and not just a series of jumps.
Plyometric exercises will have the athlete spend as little contact time on the ground as possible. Before this, the athlete must learn how to jump efficiently and land properly on the ground. To land properly, the athlete must learn to absorb the force of landing. It is also important to lane as quietly as possible when contacting the ground, with a focus on landing through the mid-foot.
At this stage of the season, GAA athletes should have 25-40 contacts with the ground per a session, and 80-100 per a week. This can be achieved using jumps, hops and bounding exercises with stable landings, continuous movements and obstacles.
The use of both single leg and double leg jumps and exercises have huge benefits for improving strength and power. Single leg exercises can be essential for improving speed, balance and are highly recommended for injury prevention.
Most movements on the pitch will be made when only one foot is in contact of the ground. Therefore, it would only make sense to train in such a way.
Medicine ball training
When it comes to exercise selection for developing explosive power, a useful tool is the medicine ball. Medicine ball exercises can be used in a safer manner for all training ages, and are low risk.
Another method to improve speed is also weight training. This is often neglected and some think that it can only be utilised to improve strength. This is not true. Weight training can be a useful method to improve speed. An example of this is the jump squat with a barbell. During this movement your body will have to create more effort and power to perform compared to your normal squat jump. I would recommended using a weight 10 percent of your 1RM for this movement. Lighter high-quality explosive reps are better than heavy labourious reps.
Include these exercise selections in your training and you will have a vertical jump even LeBron James would be proud of.
Also remember, whatever your goal is, compile a clear plan and be consistent.
For more advice on how to improve your game this season, please check us out on Instagram or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.