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04th Jan 2022

New GAA tactics board is revolutionising coaching from grassroots to inter-county

Lee Costello

“I think coaches now, are more educated and more willing to learn.”

To say Evan Talty is simply a GAA coach, would be underselling him massively, as it makes it sound like coaching is merely an occupation, a hobby or a nine to five – something that he just does from time to time.

The reality is that the Kilmurry Ibrickane native lives and breaths coaching. He is a constant and continuous student to the game of Gaelic football, and obsessed with improving his ability as a coach, which is in turn, an obsession to improve his teams as players and people.

As well as currently being the manager of the Clare senior ladies county team, Talty is also a businessman by trade.

So what happens when you combine a GAA-loving coach with a talent for entrepreneurship and business ideas?

The result is the iGAACoach, an interactive tactics board that is already being used by big names in the game, including Mayo legend and now Leitrim manager, Andy Moran.

“It came initially from seeing my club manager have a gadget at training, and I thought it was a pretty interesting concept. It was quite small and when I did some research, I saw that these kind of boards were available for basketball and things like that.

“I felt it just needed a couple of things, like could we do better in terms of the quality of the screen, the clarity of the pen, how clear it reads, the right size of the pitch and all of that kind of stuff.

You can get your tactics board here: iGAACoach

“I went away and used my contacts in the business world, got a company to make the product for us, and we came up with the 21-inch screen, with the numbers and dimensions of the pitch on it.

“For me, a product needs to solve a problem, and the big tactic boards on the GAA pitch – when you see them being lugged onto the pitch during water breaks, and trying to give you individual instructions with a massive whiteboard – were a problem.

“I invented these to help work with individuals, or small groups of players, and [to be] more specific around our runs and movements and things like that.

“I would still use the big board in the dressing room to name the team and all of that, but these are more for one-to-one coaching, smaller groups and individual coaching.”

Just like any new product that’s being made you have to pay a manufacturer for a bulk order, which in this case was 100 boards.

Talty was confident, judging by those he was talking to and hearing what the interest was elsewhere, that he would be able to sell most of them to an inner circle, and then manage to promote and sell the rest to make his money back.

The brilliance of his invention however, was so clear to see from the outset, that the sales greatly exceeded his expectations.

You can get your tactics board here: iGAACoach

“From the moment I posted it up on my Twitter feed about the board I created, I think it got 100k views, and we ended up selling 500 boards on pre-order before I even got my full order into Ireland.

“Since then we have been bringing in 200-300 boards every couple of weeks, and they’re selling out again and again, we sold out over Christmas, and won’t have them back in stock for another month.

“The demand has been phenomenal, and I did notice from my own coaching, that the modern GAA coaches are starting earlier, and getting younger and younger.

“They are more educated, more exposed to social media, and seeing what all the other coaches are putting out there, so everyone wants to be a games-based coach, everyone wants to have a player-led environment and teach things visually.

“The old-school coach of maybe 20 years ago would coach how they were coached in the past, and it was laps of the fields, drills, and this and that, but I think coaches now are more educated and more willing to learn.

“Everyone wants to be seen to be a modern thinker and wants to be with the latest trends, and I think coaching is going that way and I think it’s a great thing for the GAA because it’s only going to make our players better.

“There are certain clubs in Mayo, Cork and Dublin, who have had the foresight to buy 10 boards for their club, so these chairmen are buying 10, allowing the coaches to use them from underage all the way up, and when they do their workshops and the coaches coach each other they can use them too.

“It’s just phenomenal for them to have that foresight, like how I would use them personally is in the season ahead, I want my players to use them.

“I want them sitting in groups, I can give them boards, and they come up with their own kick-out strategies, their own forward movements, and if the players take ownership of it and present it back to their peers, that’s where learning takes place.”

You can order your tactics boards here: iGAACoach

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