Liberty Insurance Games Development Conference 2015 – Key Takeaways

By Liberty Insurance on 15 January 2015
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Following on from the success of the 2014 Conference the 2015 Liberty Insurance Games Development Conference focused on the youth player.

Following on from the success of the 2014 Conference – which focused on inspiring and fostering a love of Gaelic games in child players – the 2015 Liberty Insurance Games Development Conference focused on the youth player (aged 13 – 18 years).

The overarching theme running through each of the event’s discussions, from sports science to coaching was, ‘Putting Youth into Perspective’. The conference aimed to address issues relating to the young players who are of most concern and interest to members of the GAA community.

The key message from the impressive line-up of speakers who addressed the sold-out event was that young players need time to develop, both mentally and physically. As well as this, it was clear at the Conference that there’s a huge enthusiasm among Irish coaches to further develop their own coaching skills. Here is a snapshot from the conference’s top speakers.

Coaches: Advice and Direction

Speaking from the coach’s point of view were current Limerick and former Dublin hurling coach Anthony Daly, and very special guest speaker, Irish sporting legend Sonia O’Sullivan. The pair offered these key points;

Anthony delivered a strong focus on being a better coach. He was delighted that the Conference had sold out, as this is, he said, is imperative for developing the best coaches. His key points;

Good coaches have a willingness to learn. If you upskill yourself as a coach, you’ll upskill your players.

  • Good coaches have a willingness to learn. If you upskill yourself as a coach, you’ll upskill your players.
  • To progress a player to senior, you need to identify his/her best attributes and values, which you can then help them develop.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new coaching methods. Even if it doesn’t work, players will still respect the fact that you’re willing to try something new.

Sonia O’Sullivan provided important learnings on what young players should expect from a good coach. Here are Sonia’s key points:

  • Make sure to have fun.
  • Take time to allow young athletes to develop, and set short-term, attainable goals.
  • Make sure kids can socialise through sport; good coaches recognise and respect the importance of GAA’s social / community aspect.
  • Being a mentor and understanding people is huge.
  • At youth level, appreciate success along the way, but also treat setbacks in a constructive manner.
  • Live like someone left the gate open!

Live like someone left the gate open!

Players’ Perspective

To offer a player’s perspective, young GAA inter-county hurlers Noel Connors (Waterford), Kevin Reilly (Meath) and Podge Collins (Clare) spoke about the demands put on young players that may lead to burn-out. The key points the guys discussed were that:

  • There are high demands on players from an early age. Some young players from minor level upwards play on as many as 6 – 8 teams.
  • Young players are often expected to train twice a day, and so, if they aren’t completely committed to one team in particular, they may feel resentment building in other players.
  • Demands on players being called up to play can mean that training sessions are curtailed, as no-one is available. This especially happens in clubs with smaller player numbers, and can hinder effective coaching and development.
  • The player welfare system needs to adapt and embrace integration and player management. This will help avoid burn out.
  • There have been recent advances in training sessions for positions. These focus on what a player needs to be a better back/forward.

Ahead of the 2015 GAA season we all have a responsibility to protect and educate players at all levels. Ensuring that sport is enjoyable is one of the core values of Gaelic Games.

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