JOHN McMAHON: Be clever in your off-season

By John McMahon

THE business end of the Gaelic club season is reaching the pinnacle with county finals fast approaching. For those clubs that have exited the championship and their seasons have now ended, what should their focus be?

The off-season brings a welcome rest from the demands of a long competitive season in GAA. It’s a time to recover from a tough and long season, allow the body and mind to recover and generally enjoy some time off.

The GAA season is arguably one of the most demanding sports in the world with limited recovery times and the amateur status of the players (work, train and play). Of course, at the end of the season, you should take a break from training but try to limit yourself to just three or four weeks off. Don’t be completely idle during that time otherwise getting back into routine will be much harder than it needs to be.

Instead, have one week of very passive rest during which you do as little physical activity as possible, and then enjoy some active recovery for the next three weeks.

Hike, swim, jog, do some lightweight training, and just keep your body moving and mentally recover from a tough season during this well-earned break.

I always advise the athletes I coach in this initial downtime period to enjoy activities that refresh and reenergise them.

The off-season itself is all about GPP = short for general physical preparedness. During this time, your training is mainly non-GAA specific but, instead, is designed to prepare your body for pre-season training.

Four key areas to consider during your off-season period:

Rehab and prehab: Those niggling injuries you incurred during the season? It’s time to get assessed and see what’s going on? Upon assessment you then will begin a prehab programme to work on these areas. It’s important this prehab program is followed throughout the year.

Aerobic fitness: Maintaining and developing your aerobic energy system is key. Hike, swim, off-feet conditioning. Be as active as you can and maintain/develop your aerobic base.

Basic strength: Develop a solid base of full-body strength upon which you can develop more advanced strength qualities.

Functional hypertrophy: Increasing your physical size (If needed) and foraging some body armour to help develop and protect you in the season ahead.

The pre-season training period will help you develop your energy systems towards match fitness. But, unless you have done your off-season ‘homework,’ you are going to suffer in the process.

Pre-season training typically lasts 8-10 weeks and the off-season can last anywhere up to 6-10 weeks. One of the key concerns of your off-season is that you give your body and mind the rest from the specifics of your sport.

Overuse and repetitive injuries with female and male players are an ever-increasing epidemic.

I can assure you that not taking a considerable break from the specific skills and movements associated with Gaelic games will cause you issues. You will eventually break down with an overuse/repetitive injury.

Be clever in your off-season.

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