I have been around Intercounty players for quite a while now, and I have been around club players for even longer. I have noted certain things that make them stand out, that make them better than your average club player.
The goal of this article isn’t to offend anyone but merely to see what you can do better if you are trying to get on a county panel. Most of these are extremely obvious but why aren’t you doing them?
They are usually bigger and stronger;
The most successful county players I have come across are usually big, obviously height is something we can’t train but certainly you can increase your chances of playing Intercounty football by becoming a little bit bulkier but still retaining mobility.
Chances are if you plough weights yourself with no rhyme or reason you will probably make yourself bigger but also slower. I don’t give a shit really how much you can bench, but, I do care if you are good at Olympic lift variations, plyometrics, running mechanics etc. Get yourself a strength and conditioning coach and stop mucking around.
They are nearly always faster;
Yes this is massively genetic if I am honest, but, again you can make yourself faster. I have personally trained borderline county players into key players by making them eat speed and power modalities. The younger a strength and conditioning coach gets you the better as this is where real benefits can occur. My advice is again to do your best to seek out a coach, especially if your club just runs the tar out of you. Some clubs can actually sabotage your development by making you run just too darn much as a youngster.
They are nearly always tougher;
You may disagree but this is what I have found in my experience (exceptions are the top club teams). County players get treated badly in many ways, too many games, tough training sessions, time away from family, lack of holidays etc. You are expected nowadays to train at least 5 days a week and some of the training sessions can be brutal in their intensity. On top of that a lot of the great players play injured; they just get on with it. I know club players do this too but not to the same level. What is my advice? Stop moaning, get tough and be a little bit more ruthless in training.
They are nearly always fitter;
This is obvious but it’s something you can fix! Get a conditioning program and stick to it. As a coach I have seen dedicated club players burn county players in runs but usually this just shames the county lads to get serious. The fitness demands for top Intercounty players is extremely high nowadays so suck it up and get training if you want to make a county panel. GAA coaches usually have a fetish for the players that are running fit too.
They have better basic skills than you;
I can remember several of the best players I have coached would practice the basics over and over again; usually they arrive early with a bag of balls, or go for a few pucks on their own and spend quite a lot of time on it. We all know this, but why aren’t you doing it? Improve your skills by as little as 5% and that could be a championship win for your club. Again, getting the skills in when you are young is the most beneficial. When I coach GAA teams I am shocked how much organised training is about fitness work. Get a journal, plague a friend and practice your skills.
They are extremely competitive;
There are exceptions to every rule, and yes some of the best players I have coached have been lazy gits but every one of them had this in common, they were all extremely competitive. If the drill was to sprint, most county players box clever and will put in the bare minimum required to make it look good. When you start racing them, or make a game of a drill or introduce a prize the great players bust a gut, they simply want to win. I don’t know how you match this apart from giving it 100% in training. Refuse to lose in any game you play.
They pick up things quickly;
I used to think this was something you couldn’t get better at but I was wrong, you can. I suppose it’s like music or language skills, once you master one instrument or language learning another is much easier. So listen to your coach, read books on the game, study videos, and ask questions at the appropriate times, I love it when my athletes ask great questions.