JOHN McMAHON: Observe and communicate with players

If a Gaelic athlete is not ready for training, there is no point in putting the athlete through a workout session. NONE!

This statement is not a popular stance to take with both players and coaches, indeed in this situation as a Strength & Conditioning Coach you can find yourself as a lone voice. However, not only training athletes when they are not ready to train again is poor coaching, but you are also putting your athletes at serious risk for injury.

The recovery status of your players is the primary determinant of the type of work they need to do, regardless of the session plan you have set out. Training programmes are often rigidly assembled, with specific types and intensities of work being prescribed for certain days.

Coaches and athletes get into a habit of completing this work regardless of how the player feels. If a Tuesday session is a “high’ training session yet some of your players are not fully recovered, centrally or peripherally – the plan must be altered. It must be altered! These decisions can only be made by coaches if they have some athlete monitoring system in place. So what system do you use to give you a feel for their readiness status of your players? A very simple approach is to have a pre-session warm-up protocol to observe and communicate with your players before they take the field.

This important lesson for all coaches is to learn how to communicate with and collect information from your players pre-training. This could simply be carried out as pre-session foam rolling and mobility routine. Now before anyone has a coronary on the thoughts or merits of a foam roller…this pre-session protocol stretches way beyond the benefits or not of a foam roller. Having your players collectively gathered in an area is an ideal opportunity for you as a coach to communicate/assess your players. Is the group quiet? Are certain players quiet? Does anyone look tired or below par?

For years I have included pre-session foam rolling and mobility sessions prior to pitch sessions solely to analyse my players & make informed decisions from what I see.

This pre-session area can be used as a catch net to gauge the groups/individual’s readiness to train. You soon learn your group’s behaviour if you spend time observing them and communicating. I can guarantee if you spend more time observing your players and communicating with them. You will reduce the injury status of your squad & optimise your players recovery and therefore their potential.

Observe and communicate with your players more and you will maximise your potential.

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