SHANE RICE: MAS appeal crucial for GAA fitness

MAXIMAL Aerobic Speed (MAS) stands as a cornerstone in the realm of GAA fitness, offering a pathway to peak performance for players.

While commonly utilized in professional sports, MAS has now become a focal point in the pre-season regimens of GAA coaches, presenting a versatile tool for enhancing team fitness year-round.

The significance of MAS lies in its ability to gauge an athlete’s capacity to sustain high speeds over extended periods, crucial for enduring the rigors of training and matches without succumbing to exhaustion. By improving MAS, teams can unlock greater levels of endurance and performance on the field.

Typically, pre-season marks the initiation of MAS training for players, often accompanied by tests to determine individual MAS levels. Tests such as the bronco or the 1.2km max effort serve as benchmarks, guiding coaches in tailoring training programs to suit each player’s capabilities.

However, the utility of MAS extends beyond the pre-season, with coaches incorporating it into in-season training to maintain and elevate fitness levels.

Working within the range of 90 per cent to -130 per cent of MAS allows coaches to modulate training intensity based on specific fitness objectives throughout the year. It is also common to re-test the teams score every six to eight weeks throughout the year.

Enhancing MAS involves a multifaceted approach, encompassing aerobic workouts, interval training, and strength training. Interval training, in particular, emerges as a potent strategy for pushing the boundaries of MAS, alternating between bursts of high-intensity exercise and periods of recovery. Integrating Small-Sided Games (SSGs) alongside MAS work offers coaches the flexibility to adjust training intensity in alignment with match proximity. I like to use two minutes of SSG with 60 seconds of MAS work.

Scientific studies further validate the efficacy of MAS training in sports performance. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research demonstrated that six weeks of MAS-based interval training led to significant improvements in aerobic fitness and running performance among soccer players.

Another study, published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, highlighted the positive impact of MAS training on endurance capacity and sprint performance in elite rugby players.

In essence, mastering MAS unlocks the potential for enhanced team fitness and performance in GAA.

By incorporating MAS training into pre-season and in-season programs, coaches can cultivate a culture of excellence, empowering athletes to thrive in the demanding landscape of Gaelic football. As the pursuit of peak fitness continues to evolve, MAS remains a steadfast ally in the quest for sporting greatness.

Gaelic Athletic Academy, Shane Rice

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