Physical development of the young athlete: Doing it right

If you could turn back the clock and begin your athletic journey again, what would you do differently? This is a question I often ask myself, and the more I learn and experience as a coach in the physical development of young athletes, the more apparent the answer the becomes: a lot. My current journey is one of restoring my body back to pain-free movement after years out of sport with injuries and surgeries, with an increasing appreciation for the complexity of the human body. There is a lot to consider; the nervous system, somatosensory and circulatory system all working together to help restore quality function to the musculoskeletal structures, while resisting the conventional model of compartmentalizing the body into muscles and isolated actions. The body always finds a way to work around restrictions in joints and tissue, until it is eventually unable to positively adapt to the inefficient stressors causing mechanical failure, and pain joins the party. But what causes these compensatory and patterns non-traumatic symptoms in the first place? Why is there a pandemic of hip and knee injuries in the young GAA playing population? You won’t get a straight answer for these questions with a Google search but they are certainly worth investigating, some other time. For now, we can agree that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. While I don’t have all the answers on how to get out of pain, taking a look back at my training practices over the years and what was missing, based on what we know now, might shed some light on the matter. If...

Strength Focus: Peg Hanrahan

Peg has been training with us at the UL Arena Strength Training class since its inception over two years ago, and thus is our longest serving member. Her progress has been remarkable in that time, and not only is she well known to the Arena staff for her athletic endeavours, but certainly serves as an inspiration to all others in the class. She is a very fit and healthy woman, and always comes to the gym with a positive outlook and happy to be there. Peg, whilst very much involved in sports and physical activity, had never set foot in a gym previously and she hasn’t looked back since. Full push-ups off the floor, deadlifting over 100kg, squatting over 50kg, kettlebell swings, pistol squats. Chin-ups are next on the list and it’s only a matter of time before we can tick that box. As Peg would say herself, once she sets her mind to something she will eventually get there. There is a lesson in that for all of us! From the point of view of the coach, Peg’s success over the past couple of years can be put down to a couple of things. First of all is her consistency. Peg has never missed a block of training. Of course, like anyone, life gets in the way every now and again, but she has never broken the habit of coming to the class. She always turns up. Secondly is her application and effort. A lot of people who come to the gym don’t particularly try and progress what they are doing in terms of load, they go through...

Are you making sense in the Gym?

Avoid these mistakes, get stronger quicker, and leave in one piece. There are many wonders to be observed from day to day in a public health and performance centre, yet for every beautiful act of calisthenics and perfectly executed movement pattern performed, there are a hundred more strange and hazardous attempts at weightlifting going on.  Of course, every gym should be equipped with vigilant instructors ready to intervene during these oblivious efforts of self-harm, but when you leave a lot of people into a big room with lots of heavy objects, strange things invariably happen.  They say that the brain is the most complex object in the known universe containing around 100 billion neurons with Internet-like capacity, which makes the capacity of humans today to do stupid things in gyms all around the world all the more compelling. The motto of Hippocrates, ‘First do no harm’, is widely regarded as the number one principle for strength coaches when training athletes and so it should be with anybody training themselves.  The second principle, logically enough, should be to do something useful that is helping to reach your goals. Check out these common mistakes of your average gym-goer, and if you can just set that giant ego aside for a while we can make amends and really start making the most out of your time in the gym.   Mistake Number 1: Doing Random Stuff One of the more bewildering sights in a gym is watching someone arm themselves with a couple of tiny dumbbells and moving them around in some random fashion with no rhyme or reason.  I often play...