Ulster GAA 'ABCs of Movement roadshow' resumes next week
By Cian O’Connell
The ABCs of Movement workshops, successfully started by Ulster GAA last year, return next week.
With events scheduled for all nine counties in the province, further opportunities for coaches and parents interested in getting involved at nursery level, are being provided.
Garreth Thornton, Ulster GAA Provincial Club Coaching & Games Development Officer, is delighted with the response. “Across the province we had in excess of 500 coaches turning up to the workshops across the nine counties,” he says about last year’s sessions.
“This is year two, there is a bit of an add on this year. We are trying to keep the message the same, for us - we want to show progression from year to year. We then want to show the coaches to keep at the same programme, that it works.”
Thornton outlines the reasons behind the approach being adopted. “The ABCs of Movement - agility, balance, and co-ordination, we are trying to link it in to the player development pathway under F1,” Thornton explains.
“It is a specific programme to upskill new parents and coaches of this age group, your five to eight year olds. It is a station based set-up, we go in, roll out 10 or 12 stations or 10 or 12 games, we leave user friendly coaching cards. So they are able to take them away to implement in their own club.”
It is a particularly important offering for new coaches according to Thornton. “We run one workshop in every county, for that workshop it is an open invite to any coaches or parents,” he says.
“It is an observational workshop, it is led by Ulster GAA staff. On the night we do a bit of a theory element at the start of the workshop, we highlight the importance of this stage and the introductory part to develop the skills, the athletic development, and the fun aspect.
“Then from the coaches or parents perspective, you are trying to take the fear out of coaching. Here is a coaching card, here is the game or activity, the coaching points are on it, set the card down, give it to the coach or parent and let them rattle on with it.”
That coaches and young players enjoy sport is crucial. “It is about trying to increase that awareness with the coach at that age group,” Thornton says. “What is success for a child at five years of age? It isn't punt passing the ball, it might be being able to jump over a hula hoop, or jumping over a cone.
“That type of a thing, it is about hitting those milestones in a fun way, creating that environment for both coaches and players to learn.”
Coaches are ready, willing, and able to learn new methods which encourages Thornton. “I think social media and the level of professionalism that goes into coaching at adult level - club and inter-county, you can see that feeding into club coaches at youth level,” Thornton responds.
“What is happening with academy squads, club coaches are thinking we have to get up to that level, to match what is happening at academy squad and schools level.
“The coach at child level is thinking that they need to prepare their players so that when they are at youth level they are able to perform these skills, that they are starting to develop their decision making skills and game awareness.
“It feeds from the top down, which I don't think is a bad thing either. I think it is a positive that coaches are going into this in depth sort of way of thinking in terms of coaching.”
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