More training doesn’t mean better
Críonna Tobin’s fascinating research proves old ‘laps of the field’ approach limited
Training time for the Limerick hurlers at the Gaelic Grounds. Críonna Tobin’s fascinarting presentation to the GAA’s Games Development Conference at Croke Park appeared to prove that high intensity training produces better core fitness results than the more traditional endurance running. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” is a quote often associated with Roy Keane but ( like Father Ted only “borrowing” the parish money and having it resting in his account ) Roy only “borrowed” the quote from Benjamin Franklin, writer, philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America in the 18th century.
We all understand the point being made and as this is a sports column we’ll apply it to our chosen sport which, of course, is hurling.
The present day intercounty hurler is almost a full-time athlete. Unfortunately, he also has to attend college or work, or possibly both. His lifestyle choice of being an intercounty hurler makes considerable demands on his time.
The hurlers of the past generations were heroes and warriors. They also became artists of the ash by devoting many, many hours to being the best.
Today, however, science plays a huge part in the hurler’s preparation. The day of the coach or trainer doing all the on-field work with his players is well and truly gone.
The trainer who does the physical training with the team, aka the strength and conditioning coach, is always a highly-qualified person who probably has a master’s degree.
ResearchHe is bringing the fruits of the most up to date research on to the training field. S & C coaches like Mark Lyons with the the Limerick hurlers; Cian O’Neill, Kerry footballers; and Mick Dempsey, Kilkenny hurlers, amongst many others are all lecturers at third level.
The modern hurler is devoting his life to the game. He is following a very specific eating plan. He is in the gym a few times a week. He is rarely out socialising. He is possibly being guided in the workings of the mind. He is very aware of the benefits of a proper stretching routine. He is also very aware of the reasons to be properly hydrated all the time.
When I started out hurling on the school field in Aghabullogue it was all about hurley, sliotar (if I was lucky enough to have one ) school gable wall and matches during all the school lunch breaks.
Then it was on to training with the local under-14s and matches and games of backs and forwards at training. Not a drill in sight. That was the order of the day.
We had devoted team mentors in the likes of Gussie and Murty Murphy and they gave us their time and expertise and we were glad thankful for that.
Yesteryear’s training is a far off remove from today’s demanding regime.
But whatever team you were part of for many years after, the “rounds of the field” were a given. Most sessions began and ended with rounds of the field.