GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning – part 1

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GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning – part 1 – part 2 coming next week

GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning Week 1 – Testing and functional movement systems (FMS)…. stretching

In an ideal world we would be able to get everyone tested and know exactly what we need to work on.

Of course this is not feasible for the vast majority of club players but fear not, there is still loads we can do anyway.

There are a lot of common areas that cause problems for GAA players as they are all playing the same sport and doing similar training from an early age the same problems tend to emerge – anytime movement tests are done these are highlighted:

  • Tight hamstrings,
  • Glutes and low back issues
  • Along with very little core and glute activation.

The key to stretching is that you want to focus on major movements as best you can. There is nothing wrong with the odd static stretch to build up to more dynamic movements but really there is no need. If you based your entire program on these movements and focusing on getting into different ranges then it will be a much more productive use of your time

So in essence we want to build a decent amount of strength along with increasing mobility as we go. Great exercises for this include:

Toe Touch Progression 1
Toe Touch Progression 1
Toe Touch Progression 2
Toe Touch Progression 2










Toe Touch Progression – do 6 reps each on each side.

Resistance Band Supported Leg Lower


When reading books such as Kelly Starett’s Supple Leopard you will see how a lot of his movements involve 2 things:

1 – Moving around a certain position. So you are not just holding a static stretch

2 – You are moving around this spot for anywhere from 2 minutes or more


And many other coaches have the same philosophies.

This allows you a greater range of movement and thus leaving you freer and less chance of tension or pulling a muscle.

If you have specific muscle groups you find it difficult to stretch there are some great aids available to help you such as foot, Achilles and calf stretching  systems and height adjustable slant board for helping the same area.



GAA Pre-Season Strength & Conditioning Week 2 – Power And Speed

The main point that most GAA coaches miss with Power and Speed is that they do far too many reps

If you are looking to develop these areas it is important to do them with excellent technique and to do them when you are fresh.


Speed work is generally sprint out, quick jog back and repeat this for goodness knows how long or until someone throws up.

In reality you are much better doing shorter runs at full speed,


You want your sprints to be around the 5- 10 second mark. There are various opinions but it is only possible to stay at full speed for a short period of time. Then you want to be resting at least 5 times that before going into the next sprint. You should try to leave the sprint session feeling good as if you have done something without feeling like you need a sick bucket.


While there can be a time for those sessions and you will probably be put through them in your collective training you want to try to look after yourself as best you can. If you just keep flogging yourself then you will breakdown eventually so focus on what you can control and that is your training outside of the collective team training. Hill runs are also a very effective training session and a good way of making use of your surroundings. You don’t need a massive incline to be effective, something an angle of 10- 20% is perfect. A simple routine here would be to sprint up the hill for 5 to 10 seconds and take a good long rest as you walk back down, up to a minute or longer. I can be pretty sure that a few of these sessions done early in the year will stand to you greatly when coming up against your teammates in training.


Power involves jumps and explosive movements with Med Balls etc.

We are looking for good technique here and good explosive movements.

Both Power & Speed should be done at the start of the session so you are fresh and can make explosive movements.

Then move the session onto your skill and condition based stuff.

Don’t forget to look out for part 2 next week…………………….

Darragh Holland

Sports and Exercise Science Degree (Hons)

Certified Personal Trainer

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