Steven Poacher

STEVEN POACHER: A world of opportunities at Coach Education Morning

14 YEARS ago in the PE office in my former school in St Columban’s I had an idea of a fund raiser for the PE department and GAA within the school – a Coach Education morning.

In its inaugural year back in January 2009, we had 57 coaches come through the doors and one of the greatest coach educators in the game, the late great John Morrison, was the first to present at it.

Since 2009, the day has grown significantly, with over 400 coaches attending only a few years ago making it officially the largest coach education event in Ireland. What separates our day from the rest is a number of variables, it’s a non-profitable day with all funds going towards the development of GAA and sport within our school and the cost of the day started 14 years ago at £10 and is now only gone to £20 this year. The players on the day presenting are Down minor footballers, so the quality of the game’s coaches are presenting are delivered with great clarity. The Coaches presenting are all delivering a different theme, but we are seeing them all coach which is important for observing a variety of coaching styles. The promptness of the day and slickly it runs is also what keeps bringing people back to it.

Our annual day is Saturday, November 18 in St Joseph’s Newry, starting at 10am and we have an unbelievable line up this year, perceivably one of the best we have assembled. Colm Collin’s former Clare manager from 2013 to 2023 will open proceedings with a talk on “Creating a spirit & togetherness within a squad.” Colm’s excelled at maximising the best out that group of Clare players and it was their spirit that certainly carried them a long way.

The first of our three pitch sessions will be from Dublin Ladies five-time All Ireland winning manager Mick Bohan who will present a session based around “Introducing the concept of complex skills.” Mick probably being one of the very few coaches who has coached a Senior men’s team to an All-Ireland title (Dublun 2013) and a ladies team.

Next up will be Coach, tutor and Author Philip Kerr, the Magherfelt club man has penned six books on GAA coaching and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and his subject title, “Three friends in attack, Spacing, Separation & Spotting” certainly brings a lot of intrigue.

Finally, we conclude our pitch sessions with the founder of IGAA Coach Evan Talty, Evan who also coaches Roscommon u-20s will deliver a session on “SSG’s to develop transition play.”

I am an advocate of shared learning or sharing knowledge. I believe it’s an extremely effective way of improving you’re coaching by picking up ideas, thoughts and methods from other coaches and it’s something I would do quite regularly. I cannot understand this philosophy we tend to have in GAA where coaches “cover their homework” as such and don’t share any ideas or good practice with each other; I believe it’s hugely detrimental to the future development of our games. It simply doesn’t matter if you give someone ideas they can bring back to their training because it’s not the game or the drill that matters but how it’s delivered is the key!

I always insist, we should be educating our coaches a lot more, because for me better coaches make better players. The greater volume of qualified coaches we have, the better chance we have of improving our players. In soccer in England there are 1,178 fully qualified “UEFA A” (basically top level) coaches, in Germany there are 5,500 and in Spain there are amazingly 12,720, maybe this contributes to the technical efficiency of the Spanish players in comparison to English, but they are qualified with an official qualification and that’s the key

In the GAA the same principles could still apply, how many fully qualified coaches have we actually got coaching teams whether that is underage or senior teams within the club? How many clubs have run Coach Education mornings? I am a huge believer in non-stop learning when it comes to coaching and a club/county that provides its coaches with an opportunity to learn is without doubt a forward-thinking club/county.

Our day on Saturday, November 18 is a great opportunity for coaches at all levels of the game to absorb a fountain of quality coaching, a wonderful learning opportunity and a priceless chance for coaches to upskill heading into the off season.

To book a place contact myself with your name via or 07779780919.

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