TURAS Coaching Programme working well
By Cian O’Connell
It has been a hugely successful and encouraging year for the TURAS Coaching Programme rolled out by Leinster GAA.
Provincial Coaching and Games Manager James Devane is delighted with the response to the new initiative to ensure a coherent plan exists for the development of young players.
Funding from the East Leinster Project has enabled more staff to become involved ensuring clubs throughout the province are being facilitated.
“We have added to our staff numbers through the East Leinster Project, we got funding from Croke Park and the clubs have invested in it too,” Devane explains.
“So we have grown our staff in the province and with that we have tried to help clubs more. We've come up with this project that is a coach developer project in clubs.
“The idea is that coaches come to our workshops to engage in coach education and then our staff go out to help them in their club environments too.”
The process allows club coaches for specific age groups attend workshops before further visits from Leinster GAA staff.
“Basically it is a workshop that you attend and then our staff go out to visit you with your club team a couple of times,” Devane states. “It is age specific so we only deal with the content per age. We have got six stages from Under 4s right up to Under 17s.
“Depending on the age you are working with you go to one of those stages along the player pathway. We just try to help the coaches with age specific coaching in a workshop format followed by visits out to the club teams.
“A lot goes with that, what we look for at the end is good coaching which would be underpinned by five coaching principles. One of them might be it resembles a game in that it would be games based coaching, not just drills.
“Five principles we see as good coaching so we get those principles across through coach education and then looking for those principles to exist when the coaches are coaching on the field.
“It is pretty complex, coaching is complex, we are trying to make it as simple as possible to help our club coaches.”
Practical and informative Devane is enthused by the manner in which coaches have found the project to be extremely useful.
“It is very practical, but very informal at the same time,” Devane admits. “You have formal coach education existing through Foundation, Award 1, Award 2, they are crucial and important. We see this as running side by side with it by being informal and practical.”
That more than 2,000 coaches have been upskilled is a source of optimism according to Devane. “It shows the power of volunteers out there and the amount of people that are working every week with our players just in our province alone,” Devane states.
“We've had a huge response and we had a fair idea because we engaged with the staff to ask them what is needed out there and what could make the biggest impact?
“What kept coming back is coaches knowing the right thing to do at the right age. If I'm an Under 9s coach anywhere in the province I just want to know what will help Under 9 players.
“That is what we have based it on - age specific coaching. It comes from the ground, this is what people want. All we are doing is satisfying the demand that is there. We had 2,136 coaches last year which shows the demand is there.”
Following the initial workshop how do the subsequent club visits work? “ On the first visit it is co-coaching - our staff and the coaches take the session together,” Devane replies.
“The second visit is more on coaching in the club, they sit down with our staff afterwards to go over good practice and did they coach to the five principles and where can we improve coaching. It is about co-coaching on the first visit and more of a peer review then afterwards on the second visit.
“Initially there is one workshop per age group. We have six stages on the pathway so there is six workshops that happen over the next two months in particular.
“April and May is our busy time for workshops. Each of our staff will offer workshops at all age groups. They are pretty active, they are pretty much on every night of the week through May and into the start of June.”
Devane has been struck by the sharing of information and knowledge between clubs, especially in the younger age grades.
“There is definitely an improvement,” Devane acknowledges. “Take for example one of our staff members might have six or seven clubs in his area. If he puts an invite out to the Under 9 coaches to come in together what we are finding is that the rivalry isn't there, particularly in the younger age groups.
“They are all doing the same thing once a week and then going to games. What we are doing is creating a community of practice.
“During the workshop what we actually get is coaches from different clubs coming together to actually decide what is best at that age group. There is an activity called build the player and we ask them what they would like to see in an Under 9 player.
“Then we have a resource that backs what they come up with. It pretty much 99% backs up. Our resource which we don't show to them until the end of the workshop they come up with that information too so there is no great secret to this.”
Ultimately it means that coaches are learning and discussing valuable experience according to Devane. “Through sharing information they get to swap ideas,” Devane adds.
“Should we be kicking at this age, should we be striking, should we have the ball in the air, what are we looking for in terms of catching, how far should we be kicking the ball.
“It is all that good discussion amongst coaches that they are sharing in a community of practice. They are all doing the same thing, the kids are exactly the same from one club to the next.
“We have found it great that way, it has been a real eye opener to us. Coming together away from the match, the pitch, being on opposite sidelines is great because it gives them a chance to share.”
For further information on the TURAS Programme for GAA Coaches in Leinster contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Twitter @jamesDev84