Getting started – Equipment you need.

A snippet from my book "Strength and Conditioning for Gaelic Games"

I want this book to be for absolutely

Gym Design

Space is the most important thing in any gym

everyone, I want this book to empower you to get started in your club with the latest methods of training even if you don't have a state-of-the-art facility, you still need some equipment.

I don't believe for a second that your club has no money to buy at least some equipment. Dumbbells, chin bars, swiss balls, mats, and bars all cost money but this is a cost that we can’t really avoid, and trust me, it will be well worth it.

If 30 athletes are on a team surely you or they can organise some form of fundraising? In Offaly we made the players buy all their recovery products themselves such as foam rollers, lacrosse balls, and massage sticks, as I wanted them to use them with their clubs too (back to that culture word again).

You may have to write a formal proposal for a GAA committee and they will give out about the most random things so be patient.

Remember they don’t understand or share your vision for starting world-class systems in your GAA Club, but don’t worry we will show them over time.

The levels and the randomness of objections you will face can and will test your patience to the limits. The more professional you are with a committee the harder it will be for them to say 'No'.

If you are lucky you will work under a coach with the attitude of “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission”, and if so you might just get this done faster than you think.

Quite often the best coaches are the most driven and they make things happen - when I worked for a famous GAA club in Dublin more than a decade ago the then coach got the gym built at a speed I haven’t seen matched since.

If you are hoping to catch second-hand gear, don't bother. Yes, it may come around but it’s rare and usually amounts to no more than polite dumping by the person selling it. Why would anyone willingly sell good-quality gym gear?

split squat

We had to maximise space, budget, and time in Offaly. The results don't have to be too compromised.

You can get lucky with a studio or a gym closing but again, is this the gear you NEED, or is the gear they simply want to offload?

When I built Longford GAA their gym they bought second-hand Astroturf from someone in Dublin for practically nothing, against my advice. When I arrived home from holidays to inspect the building I found the shoddiest, worst quality turf I have ever seen installed and I promptly threw it out. It was a huge ordeal, the turf was riddled with sand which made it weigh tonnes and was impossible to lift. I swore a lot.

Another thing I see on my travels to various GAA clubs is random old machine weights (usually from a gym closure years ago) lying in different dressing rooms in a GAA club.

First of all, the fact that all the pieces of equipment are lying in different rooms is an issue, but more importantly, we want to broadly discourage the use of machine weights with GAA players (some machine weights are great such as a seated row, lat pull down, cable machines, etc).

If you really don’t have a budget, audit your club for dumbbells that may be lying around in various cubby holes, then ask all your players to bring in any kettlebells, dumbbells, or chin-up bars they may have at home. You will be surprised how many of your team will have dumbbells at home and this is a great place to start if you really don’t have a budget.

When you get all these dumbbells simply get a local carpenter to build you a strong box on wheels where you can padlock and store your dumbbells. If weights are lying around they will get broken, they will go missing and they will get poorly treated, avoid this at all costs.

All of the above is a good start, but in my experience, nothing beats the power of a GAA club determined to raise money for a just cause. There is always one person in a club great at fundraising and finding out the various grants you’re entitled to.

One club I worked for got all the players on the team to simply just pay for the gym. This was an outstanding form of leadership and It meant the players in question would never mistreat the gym as they had paid for it. If you want to improve you’ll find a way to get this done. The best coaches all have a large stubborn streak so stop taking no for an answer.