This is a tiny excerpt from my book Strength and Conditioning for Gaelic Games, now available and back in stock...
Chapter 14 – Who takes the Gym Sessions?
We have spoken at length about various methods and ideas to help your GAA team. But a question we get asked all the time is "who should take the gym sessions?".
Here are a few ideas, things to look out for, and general advice on the best and safest way to approach this. I have heard of clubs where the head coach takes them to the gym to lift weights because the head coach lifted weights when he played. DON'T DO THIS, if anything ex-players that haven't received the proper training is a poor place to start, they usually just throw several exercises together and hope for the best, usually, these sessions are too heavy, poorly organised, and frankly dangerous. Of course, if you have no resources at all, apply the principles in this book and practice the sessions a few times before you start with your team.
Another thing we see a lot is a current squad player that is studying S&C or Sport Science take the session. This is a better idea but unfortunately the current player 99% of the time resents this.
I remember in Longford my great friend and former intern Peter Foy (He's now a great trainer) used to be asked to take warm-ups if there was no other person around. He did a great job but it was unfair on him to do it.
Unfortunately, with this situation the other players aren't too fond of it either as it becomes the "who does he think s/he is" situation. It can work, but it’s rare air.
I would honestly call an established S&C coach for advice. He or she will be able to guide you on a suitable candidate, they might even have brilliant interns that might like some paid work etc.
Try and find an actual S&C coach too and not a trainer that just likes flogging people, if all they prescribe the team is lots of running, burpees, and tyre flips you've probably made a poor choice.
A good S&C coach (or an up and coming one) will have probably done a degree or diploma in Sports Science or a closely related field, they will have had a mentor of some description and don't be afraid to ask for references from previous teams or indeed a former mentor/lecturer. They will be also be insured, a lot of GAA teams turn a blind eye to this issue but it will only take one disaster for this to become a huge issue.
If in doubt call your counties S&C coach for ideas, if they aren't willing to help you they are being very rude. Don’t be tempted to just use a person with the biggest biceps in your area, they may look great but we want to make sure they have the qualifications.
If you are a head coach reading this, make sure to get someone who you see as an equal, someone that can support you totally (but challenge you a smidge), and someone whose personality can work with your group.
How much do you pay them?
Depending on experience and expertise the prices can vary wildly.
I would just remind you that coaching a team properly isn’t just about the actual session, your coach will probably type up bespoke programmes, he or she will have to travel to your club and pay for fuel, etc, correct and assess diets, they will have to answer calls from players and coaches alike, they will arrive early and leave late. Factor all this in when you get a quote from a coach.
At the time of writing this, I was coaching the Offaly senior Footballers and I worked out it is easily a 40 hour a week gig (Travelling can add hours to coaching times).
Be fair, pay them on time, and be upfront with your coach. Don’t have him or her waiting and begging for cheques for weeks on end.
Other Ideas of payment?
Some GAA clubs have nice enough gyms in situ, why not approach the trainer with a barter arrangement? They get to use your gym for free and hence they train the team at a reduced rate. These arrangements invariably go stale after a while but it’s a great launchpad for both the S&C coach and the club. Be warned, however, they can be disastrous if a clear and concise agreement between both parties is established. For example, if all the plans you have in place in your GAA club are kiboshed because a new manager comes in with his/her own ideas I think you're doomed in the long run (all too common in the GAA I'm afraid).