Steven Poacher

STEVEN POACHER: Scanning for small improvements

AS we enter the off season for coaches, I suppose it is important we all critically reflect on the past year and what we did well as coaches, what things didn’t go so well and how can we improve both individually and collectively within a group environment.

This is a time of year for coaches to get a well-earned rest but it doesn’t mean that learning should stop.

The weekend before last was our annual coach education fundraising day in school. Nationally renowned, the day has certainly become more than just about coach education.

When you see the calibre of coaches who were in attendance looking to learn and network, it says it all, from top intercounty managers right down to u-10 club coaches, all looking to take away various nuggets, whether that be visually, verbally or even how coaches presented and their different types of personalities and how they got their message across.

Bernard Jackman opened proceedings and he was immense. Bernard’s talk was on motivating the modern player and in a modern world or should I say complex world, this is certainly not an easy task.

Making connections with players was top of Bernard’s list, embrace the new player, the new world, players will have so much more going on and its important coaches make connections to establish those close relationships.

Bernard talked about clarity and consistency in coaching, making sure what was wrong on Monday isn’t right on Wednesday.

Become a sales person, learn to sell your ideas to the players and model yourself on two individuals, a carpenter who will plan, measure, look at the finer details and then a gardener who will create an environment for players to grow, making sure there is fertile soil to allow the players to grow.

The pitch sessions from Enda McGinley and Niall Morgan were equally thought-provoking.

Enda’s session opened up an array of possibilities on his theme, incorporating scanning into your session.

The way Gaelic football is played now, it is a very much possession at all costs and safety first, no player wants to give the ball away for the fear of the stats man telling the manager he has now choked up four or five possessions and it is wrong.

Enda’s whole session, from the warm-up right through his drills and games, was based on scanning quickly before you get the pass and immediately after it, looking for small visual cues, hand signals or subtle movements.

Niall’s session was incredible in opening up coaches minds on integrating the goalkeeper into your whole team training.

Niall gave us invaluable insights into the language he now uses as a goalkeeper, instead of ‘don’t foul’, it was ‘press the ball, press the man, left or right.’ Keeping instructions clear and precise for the players in front of him.

He also showed how to incorporate the goalkeepers into your skill refinement exercises, and into kick-outs and patterned movement. The biggest takeaway was using the goalkeeper as an extra defender, split moment instant decisions that will only develop through small-sided games and regular game scenario based training.

To finish the day, our superb sponsors StatSports and Performa Sport delivered brilliant presentations showing the importance of their products and how their fantastic product can benefit clubs up and down the breadth of the country offering superb analysis and feedback for coaching.

We have two fantastic evenings coming in January on Friday 13th with Galway senior football coach John Divilly and new Clare senior football coach Mark Doran on Friday 20th.

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