This is a very interesting phase of the year and is currently in line with the GAA club season. It is the phase of the season following preseason. Usually, teams work hard in the pre-season and complete a higher workload than the in-season to prepare for upcoming games. To help with the planning of this phase I would like to draw your attention to the Be Ready to Play resource that we developed with the GAA for all Gaelic Games.  

Be Ready to Play consisted of four phases to help the players return to training and performance post lockdown. They were the Activity Phase, Development Phase, Prepare to Play Phase and the Perform to Perform Phase. I have selected a few sample videos to give a taste of the programme.  

  • First is an introductory video from Annie McCarra explaining some differences in the prepare to play and prepare to perform programme.  Click here to watch the video. 
  • Secondly is an Adult speed programme in the Prepare to Perform Phase with Shayne Murphy that can be viewed by clicking here
  • Finally an Athletic Development programme for Youth players in the Prepare to Perform Phase with Annie McCarra that you can watch here

The content both coaches have developed is excellent and appropriate for the prepare to perform phase of the season. There are also some common mistakes that can happen when entering this phase of the season. They are – 

  • Not completing a re-test of the fitness tests carried out in preseason. This is valuable information for the long-term development of your players. Ideally, these results are compared to the same time of the season in previous years.  
  • This leads to the next common mistake. Not having consistent tests over the long term. Without consistent tests, it is hard to look back over time to assess the player’s development. I look at testing windows as seasons. It is important to compare summer with summer and winter with winter. You will see what progress has been made over a year or years. This can be more useful than looking at progress over 8 weeks etc as the output can be interfered with due to match load etc.  
  • Not using the fitness results and match observations to develop individual programmes. This is valuable information and each player will have slightly different needs. This consist of testing that can guide and evaluate the programming.  

Finally, it is important to work closely with the technical coach. They will be the person taking most of the session content. They will be the best person to maintain and drive the conditioning of the player through sport-specific fitness sessions. This can be completed with the coach or the coach and S&C coach. This cannot happen however if there isn’t good communication and collaborative planning. The key to the success of the prepare to perform phase is consistency and appropriateness of your testing and programming and working closely with the players and coach to develop and implement the plan.