This introduction will use the vision, mission and commitment statements from the development academy report of 2017 as a basis for this pathway.
Vision: To foster and develop in youth players a desire to maximise their potential so that they can actively transition to adult Gaelic games at both club and county level. Such a transition will be underpinned by an enjoyable development experience which in turn will help promote a lifelong association with the GAA.
Mission: To develop players holistically (both as players and as people) by providing opportunity to develop knowledge which empowers players to engage in many challenges that they will encounter along the player pathway.
Commitment: Youth players will experience an individualised developmental environment that is populated with effective coaches who are highly qualified and appropriately resourced. These coaches will promote a connection between various stakeholders and provide youth players with a coordinated and progressive approach to their development which will be heavily weighted towards clubs.
Our Coaching Ethos:
To fully understand the coaching and development pathway we must first look at the breakdown of age groups. This is an extremely important factor in the success of an academy. The best way of looking at this breakdown is through a pyramid chart.
At the top of pyramid is the overall academy. Secondly is a grouped layer that looks primarily at the overall coaching aims of these groups rather than the coaching requirements. The main take away from this layer is that each of these age groups has a mission.
- (4-10) This is the age group that learning to play is of greatest importance.
- (10-16) This age group that learning to compete commences through competitive games.
- (17+) At this stage competing to win becomes the driving factor of coaches.
- The final layer is the smallest division of ages and is where we will take a more detailed look at the coaching requirements of both the technical and physical development of our players.
The underage nursery is the most challenging yet enjoyable age group to be involved with in relation to coaching structure. Skill development is very primitive and is not the most important aspect of coaching at this age. The two most important aspects of coaching children this age are ENJOYMENT and FUNDAMENTAL MOVEMENT.
Fundamental movements are far and away the best building block you can give girls this age. Twisting, turning, jumping and sprinting for example are all things we can teach our players in a fun manner. Incorporate these movements into all the fun age specific games you play. Animal movements are a great way of getting players to move without noticing. Animals such as crab walk, flamingo hop etc are great fun and extremely beneficial.
The Cultures at this age group are limited and are based primarily around FUN, ENJOYMENT, FRIENDSHIP and AFFILIATION. Creating a positive experience or affiliation with the game of camogie is a key step to ensuring a continued participation and enjoyable experience for you and your players.
Skills development at this stage is very primitive. It is not the most important aspect but a good foundation can be created nonetheless. The base skills such as teaching the correct GRIP and SWING are critically important to get a handle on. Other skills to develop are striking and stoPping a moving ball. Goal to Goal and bombs are two of the games best suited to these skills. Having a coach going around with a pole with a ball on the end would be recommended to SPOT and FIX. Spotting and fixing on an individual basis is the best practice for teaching the grip and strike. It enables engagement with the child and allows the coach to create a rapport with the players. Equipment such as large rubber balls give children an added incentive to strike as they are easier to hit and travel further. Correct
equipment is so important when coaching the children and large amounts of unregulated play or free play is a great way to spot and fix.
This age group has an emphasis on creating a base skill set. Along with this development of the key skills we keep a continuation of the nursery’s main focus of fun and fundamental movements. It is important to realise at this age that we will not make an All Ireland winner but we can easily turn them off the game of camogie. It is important to note that they are transitioning between the Learning to play/ Learning to compete stage.
A Base skill set at this age group is key to allowing the child develop further and further up the camogie ladder. We should already be creating a correct grip and swing pathway. However it is probably still a good idea to continue working on the grip and strike until the age of 8 as it is by far the most important component in allowing a player to develop other skills. Following on from this the skills of PICKING, STRIKING (8-10), CATCHING and HANDPASSING (10-12) should be introduced, practised and ultimately learned to a satisfactory standard from 9 until 12. A satisfactory standard being, the ability to complete the skills unopposed or under a slight pressure.
Fundamental movements are still very much important in developing the all round physical ability of our players. Movement patterns such as jumping, turning and running will need constant work throughout players’ careers but giving them a good platform at a younger age enhances their overall ability in all aspects of the game. It is still important to keep this side of training incorporated into your sessions in a fun manner among these ages. Evasive games such as chasing games and monkey tails are good developmental games for this type of training.
Cultures or values are very much still based very much around the enjoyment and friendship side of team building. Many of these players come to training just to meet up and play with their friends. However, there is one key difference in this culture/values system. At nursery level players we aimed at creating an affiliation with the club and a positive experience. This is still a goal but we want to shift this towards a feeling of belonging to the club. A feeling that they are now somewhat apart of the clubs family. This is an important step in retaining a player.
This age group is now firmly in the learning to compete stage of development. At this age competitive tournaments begin as players become more skilled and are now physically bigger. This is an important age for a more intense approach to skills development. As they begin to compete, coaches must remember that this is still a development programme and winning is not the main priority. While winning is nice, it is often in defeat that players will learn more. Losing isn’t a failure but rather a sign that there is more to learn.
Skills development is now very much to the fore of these age groups.By this age they should have a base or Foundation of all of the main skill sets. Now is the time for evolution of the skills already learned. Skills like soloing, first touch, striking etc should now be done at a higher tempo and under a pressure. Pressures can include another player, a time limit, or fatigue. These pressures can also be known as objective training. It’s a great way of engaging our players and pushing them to achieve a higher score. Praise of a child’s performance should always be relative to their ability. Praise those who are trying their best and drive on the ones that are settling and taking it easy.
Physical development of the girls already in the development programme should have a strong base of the Fundamental movements. However, over this age group we can progress from the side of fundamental movements (although important to incorporate at an age specific level) into a more strength and conditioning styled approach. Creating a correct stretching and recovery process is an important habit to get girls into from a young age. Another important thing we can do with girls of this age is create a correct running form through some basic plyometrics. Running and sprinting are two of the most important skills in any sport. Just like any other skill we should approach it with respect and incorporate its correct teachings into our training. We look to introduce and teach these skills at this stage so having a high intensity, high volume approach would not be recommended.
Cultures and values at this age are beginning to take real shape. We begin to see the results of players who have enjoyed and found a belonging in their underage club side. These players who have a desire to compete and achieve in a fun friendly environment. With all of these cultural developments we can now expect a few new cultures and values to rise. These need to be fostered and nurtured by coaches as the girls are still learning new skills and developing traits. The two main new cultures are Leadership and Involvement. Players begin to take leadership in their team environment, they drive training, talk in open team discussions and set standards in matches and training. Involvement on the other hand is that our players give back to the club where possible, for example help the under 8’s coach. This is a great way of developing a player holistically.