Offaly Coaching forum - Press Release

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Lone Shark
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Offaly Coaching forum - Press Release

Post by Lone Shark » Mon Nov 14, 2005 4:20 pm

The 550 Offaly coaches who spent almost five hours in the Tullamore Court Hotel on Friday night certainly got value for money. From the time honorary Offalian, Eugene McGee got proceedings underway, as Master of Ceremonies for the night, until they left for home with the words of Finance Minister Brian Cowen ringing in their ears they had been entertained, educated, challenged and motivated by the country’s top coaches and GAA icons. The event was a huge success for Football Director, Laz Molloy and his team.

Appropriately referee Pat McEnaney threw in the ball and soon had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Mixing self- ridicule and humour with the rules of the game may not sound attractive but it worked for the affable Monaghan man. Very few people in the conference centre agreed with Eugene McGee when he declared it legal for a goalkeeper to place a ball for a kick-out and proceed to dribble ‘soccer-like’ up the pitch. But the four times All Ireland referee confirmed McGee’s knowledge of the rules of the game.

Paudie Butler’s input illustrated his status as a National Level 1 Coach as he combined international coaching statistics with indigenous practical examples. Paudie had a number of key points to make and he did so clearly and methodically:
• “The need for continuous use of the ball in training”, a point enforced by the startling statistic that a player must have contact with the ball 200 times before improvement occurs
• The need for concentration on short snappy sprints – “the average length of a match sprint is seven metres”
• “The need to build teamwork” – society today prepares young people for individualism and teamwork is no longer natural, a point reinforced by every contributor to the event
• “The need for emphasis on speed, skill and fluidity” – and not for the last time the Tyrone footballers were highlighted as the trendsetters in this regard.

Jack O’Connor spoke off the cuff on teamwork and was honest enough to share practical examples of Kerry’s failings during the past twelve months to give authenticity to his views. Each member of the team must have a job description and must stick to it – something he felt some of his defenders hadn’t done in September as they conceded 1-1 in first half injury time. Urging coaches to highlight the unspectacular, selfless work of players O’Connor added “you may be the only ones to do so, the media won’t and parents and spectators may not even notice it”. He had some very practical advice on coaching sessions too- “outlaw soloing at sessions and avoid the ‘one hop, one solo’ session as it is counter-productive. Players feel a need to do it, if it’s allowed. Instead each player must release the ball within three seconds, and count down the time” he advised coaches. Jack O’Connor brought the first half of the evening to a close by restating the need to constantly encourage the good things –“shine a light on what’s right rather than focussing on what goes wrong”.

After the refreshments Eugene McGee introduced the highly respected and irreverent giant of Meath football, Colm O’Rourke. It was a wide ranging and hugely entertaining address- the most popular of the night based on applause levels – that managed to ridicule the football knowledge of Offaly people, Brian Cowen’s gait, Pat McEnaney’s refereeing ability, the skill levels of traditional Offaly back-lines and the height of the current one- without causing the slightest offence. It was also an address that got to the core of some issues facing all coaches:
 The primary aim of coaching young players must be to enable them to use both feet and hands and, in hurling, puck equally well on either side.
 Above all else a dressing room must be a happy place – today’s youth won’t stick with what’s not enjoyable
 Concentrate continually on the primary skills of the game
 Whenever possible, and certainly in leagues and challenges, use all players – it is criminal for a child to go home without a game
 Reciprocate the honesty and loyalty of the young person
 Remember with young people the carrot always works better than the stick
 Involve parents at all levels and the best way of doing this is to ask them to commit to an activity that has a definite time span and a clear outcome
 Protect the elite player – if he has trained with the county panel on Tuesday don’t try to ‘show him’ by running the guts out of him on Wednesday or Thursday at club level
 Weights are ok for players over sixteen years, provided it is a proper programme under the guidance of qualified personnel and customised to meet the specific needs of the individual
 Sleep is crucial to a young player’s development – perhaps up to twelve hours per night
 There is a huge issue that needs to be resolved at the highest level – that being the club vs. county debate, a topic that dominated the question and answer session

Ger Loughnane delivered an intense and inspirational input on motivating young players. Ger, like other speakers, commented on the huge attendance and expressed the hope that participants would return to their clubs not just with new ideas but with renewed self-confidence. The focus of this address was in responding to the question: “What are the forces that drive us to perform?” Ger drew many of his answers from Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ stressing the importance of knowing your players needs.
Loughnane focussed on the needs that players have
• for prestige and achievement ,
• to affiliate and belong to a group and
• to defend our status, avoid humiliation and overcome defeat.
Ger urged coaches to select motivated players, to plan well organised (no hanging around ) coaching sessions that focus on fast, snappy, ball-centred drills and to communicate your confidence in players.

The last word fell to Offaly’s own Finance Minister, Brian Cowen, introduced by Eugene McGee as one third of a full forward line – with Matt Connor and Brendan Lowry – on an Offaly Under 21 team that had been defeated by Carlow in the Leinster Championship. Minister Cowen praised the commitment and dedication of current Offaly players. He warned of the dangers of equating Offaly’s progression and status with ultimate success. “Our population means that we aren’t going to win All Irelands on a very regular basis. What we can expect is to that our players don the Offaly jersey with pride and possess the required skills and passion to compete at the highest level”.

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