I have been threatening, for a while now, to start writing a blog but for the life of me I couldn't begin to know where to start so I decided to just throw myself into it and start with one of my favourite topics: Gaelic football.
My own experiences with the game have moved on now from playing to coaching and I have found that my love for the game has not deminished but in fact increased to a level more than I could have conceived just a few short years ago.Coaching I have found is a lot more than just turning up once or twice a week, roaring at a few young lads, getting them to run through a few basic short drills and finishing up with a quick, small sided game. This was in fact the way I did start in first year with my local club Multyfarnham here in Westmeath. But I suppose I was just looking after the Under Tens and the basics was all those young lads needed. Coaching I have found is about developing players to get their technique right firstly, then getting them thinking tactically and finally, by association with the coach, strategic use of players strengths
In my second year I helped out with the Minors and Under Sixteens alongside another couple of mentors( to use the current terminology). The younger lads weren't too bad but I didn't think they had much of a chance at the time, the older lads did show some potential but were a lazy bunch who needed an awful lot more work. The first couple of games we went out with no game plan or tactics and concurrently our training sessions had not been based on playing a certain style. Suffice to say we got hammered in every game, badly. Surprisingly enough though the young lads went on - after losing their first game - to put a bit of run together winning three games on the trot.
We then decided to change the way we coached the lads; concentrating on hard tackling, tight marking, quick passing and basically the long ball this coupled with the fact that in the height of summer we were able to go out and train three nights a week. After about five or six weeks of this the boys were tackling tough, running hard and fit as fiddles. But also they were getting plenty of ball work in training. We didn't know for sure if they had progressed enough but by the time the minor championshiop came around we managed to win our first game at minor level for nearly four years! We then went on to win another game, received the points from a walkover and ended up in the semi final. We didn't win but we gave it a hell of a go. It was all down to the way we had concentrated more on what we were doing in training, we wanted a style of football to play so we tailored our sessions to develop that style.
Coaching lads to play football is a lot more than people think, a lot of work has to go into it and I suppose it helps to have a lot of passsion for it as well. I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is a lot more to it than what meets the eye and that you have to admire the top coaches, no matter what the sport, for their achievements and their all round brilliance because from my own experience it's not easy and bloody hard work!