The Muscle: A successful season needs a good off-season

By Sean Robinson

WITH the 2020 club season coming to a close, where does the club game and player go from here?

Personally, I felt the club season of 2020 was like no other. We had some huge scalps across numerous counties, with some fine displays on show.

Club football and hurling this year rose to the top (even Pat Spillane was singing the praises of Tyrone football). There was a huge amount of drama from teams displaying great skill, intensity and work-rate. It was exciting and nail-biting stuff as players showed nerves of steel with championships being won on penalties.

Ultimately it was a battle of the fittest and who could survive the heat of championship action week in, week out.

This year’s club championships demonstrated that a separate club and county season would work and undoubtedly benefit the GAA in many ways.

The club footballer would have a fixture calendar which would allow them to manage both their training schedule and life outside of football.

Clubs also had the benefit of their county players being on the pitch every night at training which, in turn, increased the quality and standard of competitive games.

That being said, with the games coming thick and fast, it left some players with limited time to recover, resulting in those dreaded ‘niggly’ injuries. In my view, this was not due to the volume of games, but rather, the preparation, or lack of in some cases, over the previous months.

Lockdown hit hard in March/early April, and for many, 5k and 10k road runs followed, with some astonishing times that even Mo Farah would have been proud of.

Analysis has shown that the average county player will complete approximately 44 sprints in a game. These efforts range from five metres upwards and are multidirectional.

Accordingly, it would be have been more beneficial for the club player to focus on runs ranging from 20m to 400m, to build stamina and game specific fitness, rather than all of those 5k and 10k runs.

Even with the condensed season, for some the same old recurring injuries led to a shortened season for them. Now, for these players, it is time to get back to the drawing board.

Where to go from here?

The GAA season is wonderful in so many ways, but it is also tough for players both physically and mentally. Once the competitive phase has ended, the non-competitive phase will start. This will be broken into two separate periods, your off-season followed by your pre-season.

Your body and mind have been through a lot all year. Training, drills, meetings, analysis, wins, losses, emotional ups and downs; and the list goes on. It may be difficult, but it is healthy to shut down for a time in order to adequately recuperate.

Physically, mentally and emotionally you just have to give yourself a break. Spend time with friends and family to take your mind of the season gone by.

Then when it’s time to hit the gym again, you’re excited and ready to attack each day with the energy you need to play at a high level

Whether you have come off the back of the season with or without injury, you should focus on letting your body recover for a few weeks. This does not mean stopping your training completely, but instead, lowering the intensity and volume of your training.

For those that were unfortunate enough to pick up injuries in the competitive window, it is important to complete a rehab period so that you are ready for the pre-season period.

For those athletes that are fortunate enough to be injury free, you should join a gym, or even invest your time into a Pilates class. When joining the gym, you should include a general preparation phase to allow your body to adapt to the heavier loads that you will put it under over the weeks and months to come. This should include prehab exercises to help prevent injuries, optimise movement and correct dysfunctions.

Catch up next time to see how to plan your pre-season training. But for now, enjoy your off season!

Get to know me: Sean Robinson from Derrylaughan, Tyrone.

I am a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach and am the proud owner of Core Performance Gym. We recently opened the gym in September 2020.

I run various different programmes for my athletes and clients, ranging from strength classes, recovery sessions, small group personal training and one-to-one personal training.

To find out more, visit our Instagram or Facebook page, or contact myself on 07851158364.

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