Strength and Conditioning for GAA

When doing an S&C program that is designed to improve sports performance it's always a good idea to use bang for your buck exercises.  Aim to get the most out of S&C with as little time as possible spent in the gym so that you can spend as much time as possible working on your sports skill. Without sports skill, all the strength in the world will get you nowhere.

Whether a novice or advanced trainee the basic barbell movements along with basic bodyweight movements are going to give you the most bang for your buck. They will do more for strength/power gain and injury resilience than anything else you can do.

I like to keep some form of unilateral work in the program all year round, in the offseason I will change the exercise every two or 3 weeks, sometimes I will use 2 exercises at once. Two of my favorite unilateral exercises are bulgarian split squats and single-leg deadlifts.

Olympic lifts for S&C

Although I don't use them I do agree that Olympic lifts will build power and strength. The biggest issue I see with Olympic lifts is the learning curve, it takes an awfully long time to get these lifts to a very good technical point so that you can then start overloading and making significant strength and power progress. 

For any field sports player, I believe you're better off learning to squat and deadlift (which will take very little time for most) while making quick progress and using the extra time that would've been used learning the Olympic lifts to practice your actual sport skill. 


When the championship has drawn to a close I like to give my athletes a 6 week block of 2-3 strength sessions a week with no prescribed running, if they choose to go running that's on them, I’m not telling them to do it. 

The break from running does the body and mind the world of good as the focus switches to getting stronger and better conditioned for next year.

This time can also be used for rest and/or rehab for athletes carrying injuries coming out of the season. How long this period of training lasts will depend on how long your offseason is.

Pre-season - Before pitch training begins

A good 6-8 week block will do fine here, if the players have done their offseason work then 6 weeks will be plenty if not more time will be needed. 

Two S&C sessions per week and one running session are mandatory and a bare minimum requirement, one optional S&C session will be given with the option of running more if wanted.

Once pitch training begins

At this point I'd usually drop the running sessions as the players will get plenty of this during training, challenge and league matches. One mandatory S&C session is to be done here with an optional extra session given.

Once the players are back on the pitch the demands and stress put on their bodies are usually very high because of this we must change our approach slightly. 

Exercises that are less stressful on the body will be used such as box squats to parallel or slightly above will replace actual squats and volume will be reduced drastically where needed like on deadlifts which are reduced to 1 set per week.

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