Thinking Outside The Box

Immediately after the training session we are going to start an active recovery session. This will begin with lengths of the field with the following exercises included.

  • 2 lengths – slow jog to settle heart rates.
  • 1 length – Butt Kicks. Alternatively kick your right and left heels towards the butt as quick as possible for a count of 20 (on) with a count of 20 (off) recovery then repeat. All the while maintaining progress down the field.
  • 1 length – High Knees. While maintaining forward momentum quickly lifts the knees to a point where the thighs are parallel with the ground. 20 seconds on 20 seconds off.
  • 1 length – Strides. Exaggerate the running motion swinging the arms loosely away above the head in time with an elongated leg stride almost long jump like with a slight pause in all movement while in the air between each step.

Line up the athletes in rows all facing the coach. Start some light stretches focusing on the leg and back muscles.

  • Hamstrings. Feet slightly more than shoulder width apart with knees locked, bend over letting nothing but body weight control the stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Stand upright, push the fists gently into the back just above the buttocks, push the hips forward, lean the shoulders back slightly until a light stretch is felt in the upper section of the quadriceps/hip flexors. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat entire exercise 3 times. Each time gently reaching a little further towards the toes. Do not stretch through pain.
  • Stretch the quads by lifting the right heel towards the right hamstrings. Grasp the foot with the right hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times. Alternating between left and right legs. Do not stretch through pain.
  • Find steps, a kerb, a low bench or have a row blocks or thick (5-6 inch) planks spaced out on the ground. Have the Athletes stand on the edge of the step with feet a few inches apart and both heels just at the edge. Bring the right foot back so that the ball of the foot is on the edge of the step. Slowly ease the bodyweight over onto the right hip while slightly bending the left knee keeping the right knee locked lower the right heel a few inches towards the floor. All the while maintaining an upright posture. A stretch will be felt in the right calf. Do not force this stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times alternating between left and right sides. Do not stretch through pain.

Week Two

Every now and then an athlete can get tired or lose the fire that has kept him or her going through all the hard work of training, early morning starts and sacrifices that has kept him or her at the top of their game.

If I had a choice of motivational speakers to introduce to a team of athletes in this situation or indeed at any point along the way especially before competition it would have to be Dick Hoyt. If half an hour in the company of this man wouldn’t get you motivated then you’re made of stone.

Dick’s son Rick suffers from Cerebral Palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak he communicates via specially designed computer on his chair. Some years ago Rick wondered what it would feel like to take part in a marathon so, his dad, Dick ran the marathon while pushing Rick around the course. This continued for a few races until the Ironman triathlon caught the attention of the young Rick. So, the inevitable happened. Swimming 2.4 miles with Rick being towed in an inflatable dingy, cycling 112 miles Rick sat at the front of a specially adapted bicycle and finally Dick slogged through a full marathon pushing his son in an adapted wheelchair.

Much of this event was captured on film and became an internet sensation when it was put to music. It was even used in the dressing room of the Donegal Senior football team before the beginning of the successful 2012 championship season. It has inspired me and I’m quite sure it will continue to inspire. Have a wee look.

Week Three.

As Inter-county training often takes place on various different club grounds around the county this week’s wind down will involve a visit from the local clubs under tens team.

The plan is for each of the senior lads to pair up with one of the kids playing in the same position as themselves and mentor him or her through the training session. The idea is to have the session in the same format as the county session, obviously not as difficult, to give the kids a taste of what their idols do in training and to give them a major boost of confidence not to mention excitement.

The seniors should have a think about what advice they would impart to the kids on topics such as sportsmanship, fair play, dedication, enjoying the game, diet etc. A game should be organised at the end of the session and managed by the seniors. The county management set up could also take part in the exercise to by having a workshop with the underage management at all levels within the club. In particular paying close attention to the differences between managing young adults and children.

As County teams usually have a surplus of gear it would be a nice idea at the end to hand out jerseys or gloves to the kids.

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