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16th Apr 2021

‘Overtraining’ is not the main issue for county players, says Down boss Paddy Tally

Lee Costello

Top strength and conditioning coach Mike McGurn claimed that GAA county players are “training too much” and that “a lot of it is unnecessary”.

McGurn told the Irish News: “I worked with the All Blacks in 2008 and a lot of senior county football teams are doing more training than the All Blacks. That’s not an exaggeration, that’s the reality.” 

Paddy Tally, who is currently manager of the Down senior county team, has a wealth of experience when it comes to the conditioning side of training. The University lecturer worked with his native Tyrone in the early noughties, has worked with the St Mary’s Sigerson Cup team for the past number of years, was with the Galway senior football team under Kevin Walsh and is now in charge of the Mourne men.

Tally said: “Whether the term ‘overtraining’ is the right term, I don’t know. There certainly isn’t enough matches for the amount of training we do, that’s probably my view on it. I feel that if you’re playing a lot more games, then your ratio of training to games would be decreased significantly, but because we’re playing so few games, and there’s a standard amount of training where most teams train four to five sessions a week, then it’s too much. 

“It would be all fair and good if you plan matches every single week, or if you’re playing two games a week, but we are averaging probably two or three games a month, so it just means that you’re doing a lot of sessions for the amount of games you’re actually playing.”

McGurn also said something that older Gaels from all over Ireland are very fond of saying, that “It’s not about what you can lift in the gym or run on the track, it’s what you do on a Sunday, on the pitch.”

“Fitness is obviously an important component, but the game ultimately comes down to what you can do with the ball,” agreed Tally. 

“The four aspects of preparation for a player are this physical aspect, then the technical aspect or the skill you have. Then there’s the tactical knowledge and then you have the psychological aspect. So, you know you have four different domains that you have to address in every player and if you miss out on one of those four or if you’re weighing one over the other, then you may not be maximising the potential of the player.”

The Galbally man however, doesn’t believe that most county teams are taking the wrong approach.

“I wouldn’t agree with the idea that county teams are doing it wrong, I think that most counties now have people involved with the backroom team from an S&C perspective, that’s very good.

“They usually have someone that really understands what the game demands, what the functional needs of the athlete are and the functional movements required to perform really well. 

“It’s the people that are coming in without that knowledge or understanding who just are maybe working on generic programmes, basing it on the old Olympic lifting without actually giving enough thought to what you need to do, to be a top class Gaelic footballer.

“However, I do feel that there’s progress being made. I think that things have moved on considerably in the last 20 years and things will only continue to improve, but it’s just getting that balance right and I think that you need to be very careful of who you bring onto your backroom team.”

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