Training and Playing in the Summer heat
It’s not a dilemma many GAA managers have had to take into account in recent years maybe this year the sun gods will be looking down on us. But for every manager be it GAA club or inter county this raises significantly more problems. Dehydration and fatigue are increased greatly and training in such conditions is a difficult balancing act. You need players to be able to adjust and work hard in these increased heat levels but at the same time there is a risk of burn out. Managers must take into account that most players are coming to evening training following a long day’s work (with the help of God).
Like most areas of GAA managership, planning is the key, the hard pre-season work has been completed and the hope is the strength and conditioning is already in the legs and lungs to sustain players. Particular attention is necessary to the warm up as players may tend to feel less need to do this in the heat, see our article gaa warm up for some hints.
Focus of any session must be on match practice. No matter the GAA code, with Championship upon us, players need competition during training and the emphasis should be on competitive skills practice and matches, either small 4 v 4 physical exchanges in confined spaces, to full or half pitch games.
With the focus in all codes for blanket defences managers should also focus on 'weighted games' were forward lines must play against 7 or possibly 8 defenders. Aerobic training should be confined to sharp sprint work to bring players to their peak during Championship time. There is some merit in longer timed runs but again these are not sustained, three or four maximum in the course of a session. A good distance is around the full 45 of a pitch, start at one goal post and run players on the stop watch around the 45 and back to the goals without placing a foot inside the end lines or sidelines, turning onto the pitch at the 45.
GAA Tackling drills and GAA shooting competitions, either individual or in teams also affords the opportunity for team building.
Never underestimate the value of a good scoff at a bad wide or a defender putting a forward on their ass in a tackling drill!!
Finish any hot summer training session with a proper cool down period following the workout and remember the key to training in the heat is sharp, short focused endeavours.