Archive for the ‘GAA’ Category



Acceleration – It’s not just the legs

When athletes think of acceleration they immediately think leg strength, but that is only a part of the Acceleration equation. Acceleration requires huge force production over a longer ground contact than at top speed, making maximal strength for bodyweight is critical. Stride frequency and stride length are slower and shorter in acceleration than at top speed. Upper body strength is also essential to great acceleration because improved arm strength and mechanics are more important to driving the athlete forward during the acceleration phase than at top speed.


Many athletes only think of acceleration in terms of running straight ahead for a short distance. In reality, acceleration can take place in any direction. In actual play, athletes accelerate forward, backward, sideways, and diagonally. Many think acceleration occurs only from a static start. On the contrary, acceleration can also take place from a moving start at any number of speeds. For instance, a player in motion may have to accelerate quickly or decelerate quickly on the field. Both of these are forms of acceleration, and both can be improved with proper training.

Here we are using forward acceleration from a static start as a common way to describe the muscles and biomechanics of the Acceleration.

There are a number of physical and technical characteristics that can lead to poor acceleration. The first and most important characteristic is relative body strength. How strong an athlete is for how much they weigh is directly proportional to how well they can accelerate. Since acceleration is an athlete overcoming their own inertia with the force they produce, the leaner (less body fat) and the stronger they are at that weight are predictors of how well they will accelerate.

To look at the situation generally, the major muscle difference between acceleration and top speed is that the quads are used more in acceleration, and the hamstrings and hip flexors are utilized more during top speed. The most important areas to strengthen for acceleration are the gluteal and quadriceps muscles, the calves and muscles of the upper body, especially the anterior deltoid. Maximal strength is important here because ground contact times are much longer during acceleration than at top speed. Since there is a greater amount of time to produce force, the more absolutely strong a muscle is, coupled with greater relative body strength, the better the acceleration. For acceleration training, more maximal weights can be used in exercises such as the squat, lunge walks, chin ups, pulls ups, calf raises, and step ups.

We know that acceleration has a longer ground contact, smaller stride length, less stride frequency, different technique and teaching cues and relies differently on the muscles of the body when compared to top speed. Since there are different muscle actions during acceleration and top speed, it is logical that there will be different cues used when teaching technique. For instance, for force production at foot contact, acceleration should be taught as a “pushing” motion.


For good acceleration, keep the center of gravity low and forward while trying to push out as long strides as possible. As a vast generalization, a forward body lean of 45 degrees is recommended. However, it is difficult for any athlete to learn to “lean forward”; genetically we’re programmed to keep our bodies from leaning forward and falling. (You fell, a large ferocious animal ate you – we learned!) Continuous practice of “falling starts” helps to overcome what we’re hard wired to not do, breaking those bad habits.

Falling start video

Driving arm action is also critical to proper acceleration. Your arms not only add power and speed but they are related to your legs and force propulsion. The faster your arms move, the faster your legs move.

When running, the elbow should generally be at a 90 degree angle, with the motion taking place in the shoulder, which drives the arms. The action is not at the elbow or the wrist, meaning that the 90 degree angle at the elbow joint remains constant throughout. Shoulders are forward facing in forward acceleration and face the direction you want to go in sideways acceleration. Hands are not clenched, but open with the palm facing inward and sideways. As your arm goes back your thumb should be parallel to where your back pocket would be, not much further (or you’re wasting energy and motion). The opposite arm should simultaneously be coming up so that you can see your thumb in front of your chin or nose. If the athlete can’t see the hand, the hand is in the wrong place; we don’t want the hand to cross midline – that misaligns the body.

The angle of your arm to your body (humerous to torso) is critical to the angle of the height of the knee on the opposite leg – and we want the knee to drive up. With your arms in the wrong position your hip will be out of position for maximum movement.



Common mistakes with Arm Action video:



Finally, the athlete should draw in breath right before the acceleration and hold it for the first few steps. This will allow for a Valsavla maneuver and a subsequent better opportunity for your nervous system to produce force.

Coach Dominic Casciato CSCS

Parisi Speed School Port Washington

Coach Dominic Casciato CSCS   Coach Dominic was NCAA Soccer All American, an Academic All American and a Strength and Conditioning All American as well as playing professional soccer in England. He has helped coach one of the most successful Men’s Soccer development programs in the United States and in late December 2013 his U16 team became the US Youth Soccer National League Champions and was the first team in tournament history to play 7 consecutive games without conceding a single goal. He is a Parisi Speed School Coach in Port Washington and a TFW Instructor.


We have some online coaching places coming up for anyone looking for a specific training program to maximise their performance.

Contact us @



One day workshop for club football players looking to train like inter county football players and get the extra EDGE!

We are putting on a 1 day only Strength and Conditioning PRACTICAL workshop for GAA CLUB PLAYERS looking to get the competitive edge while hitting the pitch in top physical condition come championship.

You will walk away from this workshop with your very own TRAINING PROGRAM to follow for 4 weeks while confident to know what your doing in the gym/pitch is right to make progression in the gym and transferring it onto the playing field. Phiily, myself and Peter will cover as much as possible to help you become better athlete. There will be a full on session for attendees do so get a fair idea of what the guys at the top are doing.

This is for players who are serious about getting FASTER, STRONGER, FITTER & POWERFUL.

We have 2 inter county players who are also top Strength and Conditioning Coaches to present at the 1 day intensive workshop.




Phily Mc Mahon (Dublin & Ballymun Kickhams) 2 All Ireland football titles with Dublin & reached the All Ireland Club football championship final in 2013 with the Mun.


peter foy 1

Peter Foy (Longford & Longford Slashers) Peter is one of the best athletes I have ever trained and you will be blown away by his condition he maintains during In-Season. (Often seen in our training videos)



These 2 coaches/players are both in top physical condition while having over 20 years training experience combined.

Both are also Strength and Conditioning coaches who do this for a living with various teams.
The workshop will be held in Longford in our training facility. Each player will receive a 4 week training plan to take home and will be put through a training session on the day.

Content to be covered on the day but isn’t limited.

1. Warmups/Cool Downs. What you should and should be doing for warmups to prep you for the training session ahead (foam rolling/Active release, Mobility, Dynamic Movement, Static Stretching)

2. Power Training (Plyos-bounds, hops, landing, jumping, loaded jumps, med balls, ladder drills, hurdles etc)

3. Strength Training (Barbell and Dumb-bell training you should be doing and exercise selection)

4. Speed Training

5. Conditioning to improve fitness and body composition

6. Recovery sessions (post game)

7. Nutrition/supplementation/pre game performance supplements, body fat assessments for all players.

8. Mental Preparation for games/training

9. Training Session for attendees to show how the guys at the top train

The workshop is limited with high practical content and training session for attendees and places are secured through the following link below.

We have 8 places remaining and is suitable for both female and male GAA players.

Cost: 167 Euro

Time: 10am-4/5pm

Location: Longford

Date: 7th June

Speed training for GAA part 2

Posted: July 15, 2013 in GAA

Speed training for GAA Part 2

Firstly I’d like to thank Coach James for asking me to write a piece on his blog and I’d also like to thank him for all his hard work keeping us all up to date by posting research papers, PDF’s etc.  In this post we will discuss types of training on the field and in the gym that will help increase a player’s speed, following up on the previous post that discussed Plyometrics, Acceleration and Max Velocity.

Speed is probably the most sought after and important aspect of almost any sport, so for this blog I will discuss/show some Speed drills for GAA along with other more team orientated speed work during training for Gaelic Football.


Speed Endurance 

Speed endurance will not change stride rate or stride length, at least on the first short sprint. But it will determine the amount of slowing at the end of a long sprint, the pace at which acceleration to max speed occurs and even on repetitive short sprints. In other word players with poor speed endurance will not be able to accelerate and sprint at a high level due to fatigue (High Performance Sports Conditioning by Bill Foran). So increasing a player’s Speed endurance can in fact make an athlete seem faster but in actual fact you are increasing their anaerobic fitness which in turn will increase their ability to run fast for longer more frequently. It is vital that athletes perform a good warm up including aspects of the session they are about to do. E.G. High Knees, ladders, mini hurdles etc to mimic running form for 10 to 15 minutes while incorporating a football or slitor with some skills like kick passing soloing handpassing etc.


  • Set 6 cones 5 meters apart in a straight line with the first cone the starting cone.
  • Players run as fast as possible to the first cone, touch the cone, turn and sprint back to the start touch and sprint to the 2nd cone and continue out to the 6th cone while turning on each cone and sprinting back to the start after each cone touch.
  • Rest for 90 seconds with active recovery and go again.
  • Perform 5 to 8 of these runs.
  • All in all if 5 overall runs are done athletes will end up sprinting 750 meters.

Only allowing athletes 90 seconds rest between repeated sprints will not allow them to fully recover. The rest should be active rest so have some balls nearby for players to jog at a very low pace passing the ball between 2 athletes. By not allowing full recovery the players will produce high levels of lactic acid in a short period of time. In training like this, players will condition their body to tolerate high levels of lactic acid while allowing them to perform better due to their superior fitness. Bear in mind this is extremely difficult and teams/players should only perform it once a week during Football season and possibly twice a week during preseason (definitely) or during long breaks between games. An overall training session should only last 30 to 60 minutes with the speed endurance drill lasting roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Ball work at a medium to low intensity after the speed endurance work and then a thorough cool down would be advisable.

Acceleration & Deceleration: 

Acceleration is an increase in speed forward, backward and sideways, in football it is done from a number of positions such as starting from a stationary position, walking or jogging. In its simplest form the player moves at a greater rate of speed. Deceleration is a decrease in speed, the slowing of the body after high speed and in need to stop or change direction. It happens when players are at high speed and need to time their run for a pass, or if the opposing team intercepts the ball and the player has to stop decelerate change direction and accelerate again back towards his own goal in order to prevent the other team from scoring.


  • Set cones at different intervals along a straight line about 5 and 10 meters apart. Possible from the end line to the half way  line.
  • Athletes will accelerate for the 10 meter distance and decelerate once they reach the 5 meter cones and be ready to accelerate again on the 10 meter cone.
  • The easiest way to do this is have cones of different colours e.g. red for decelerating and green for accelerating.
  • 8 cones will suffice so it would be a 50 meter acceleration and deceleration combo.
  • Perform 2 reps with a 3 minute active rest. Possibly 3 to 4 sets depending on the training session.

These 2 aspects of speed happen throughout games whether you’re tackling, being tackled on the ball soloing or making a run for the ball acceleration and deceleration happen constantly in most sports so training for it is important.


Agility is the ability to move in many different directions at a high speed. It requires a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, endurance and stamina. In my opinion it is the most crucial component in Handball, Gaelic Football, Basketball, Hurling and most sports. Of all the movement skills players need, being able to react and read to move in any direction quickly and under control agility is probably the most important. Quickness of an individual limb like abducting the arm to intercept a pass, players need to be agile to complete the movement but also to get into the position they need to be quick. Fast feet in team sports can be vital to attackers, defenders and goalkeepers; they need to be able to turn quickly and accelerate away toward the ball or their opposing player or to avoid a tackle and being agile will most definitely help that.

It goes without question that there are quite a lot of aspects in agility and it would be nearly impossible to train them all in 1 training session especially when you have 18 to 30 athletes. So in my opinion the best way to train agility is in small sided conditioned games. Players are getting in sport specific training while increasing their ball skills they will also increase agility, reaction, anticipation, deceleration, and acceleration, game specific movement patterns along with learning to maintain speed while under stress, strain and fatigue.


  • Depending on the amount at training set out small squares with cones 10 yards apart.
  • Have 2 teams of 3 in each square (bibs).
  • Set the clock for 1 minute 30 seconds and have them play a possession game for that time.
  • Rest for 1 minute taking on water and repeat again 3 times (6 minutes of hard competitive game play).
  • After the 4th set is complete have the players do a low intensity ball drills while you set up the next game.
  • Increase pitch size, player numbers and introduce goals, solos, etc.
  • Keep the pitch size small but not so small that the players can’t move but small enough that they can go at their highest intensity for 1:30 to 3 minutes with rest periods of 1 to 2 minutes. 

I hope you all enjoyed reading this post and can take something away from it to help you and or your team become faster and more competitive.

In the clip we show some of the warm up with the ball and some ladder/hurdle work with acceleration incorporated. A speed endurance drill at a low pace because it was before training and we hadn’t a proper warm up done at that stage. Forgot to tell 1 of the boys but you will still see what the drill is like. Acceleration and deceleration with and without the ball. And a conditioned game. Now things may not look perfect but you should get the idea of what is a good way to train speed. 

Id personally like to thank Donal for the post and look forward to continuing to work with him as he is the coach i have working with clients in the munster region for me. If you want more info on training contact us via email or through our facebook and twitter page

Coach James

Donal O’ Connor.

Strength & Conditioning Coach (North Cork/East Kerry)


MikePhillips_JerryFlannery_altitude_training_LionsListening to Ashley Jones speak a few times last week about hypoxic training we thought it would be a good idea to asked Irish olympian Colin Griffin for some insight into it. Colin knows his stuff when it comes to altitude training with centres in Limerick and Dublin along with mobile units on the road.

If you are GAA player or playing any sports and looking to massively improve your performance then this is for you if you can get to his centre.

Altitude Training for team sports

Since the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City at an altitude of 2300m, athletes and coaches have utilized and experimented with altitude training as a means of improving athletic performance. When living and training at altitude or in a hypoxic (low oxygen) environment, the body compensates by triggering a host of physiological, blood, respiratory as well as anabolic adaptations that improve performance.

Altitude training has been used predominantly by athletes in endurance sports due to increased oxygen carrying red blood cells and aerobic performance benefits. In recent years physiologists and coaches have been expanding the concept of altitude training into team sports. There has been growing evidence to suggest that training in a hypoxic environment can improve repeated sprint performance, strength and power, as well has helping injured players rehabilitate and return to match fitness quicker.

Recent studies have shown that doing repeated sprints in a hypoxic environment (simulating 2500-3000m) improves sea-level repeated sprint performance due to improved glycolysis and O2 utilization. Delayed onset of fatigue due to faster phosphocreatine re-synthesis, and better utilization of fast twitch fibres were also found. The better utilization of fast twitch fibres is an interesting one as when athletes compete at altitude; sprint and jump performance tends to be greater, with the opposite for endurance events. Well timed and careful implementation of hypoxic training sessions into the programme of a team sport player can be of significant benefit. Repeated sprint training or anaerobic interval training can be done on a watt bike or a treadmill using a hypoxic exercise mask system or in a hypoxic chamber. For compromised players who need careful training load management due to injury profile or deconditioning, doing hypoxic training in an unloaded exercise such as a bike can be a good way to achieve cardiovascular stimulus without overloading the muscular-skeletal system. Players can also benefit from sleeping in an altitude tent to improve aerobic conditioning and thus repeated sprint performance a practice used by many premiership soccer and rugby players as well as Australian Rules players. The same aerobic and oxygen-carrying benefits that endurance athletes gain can also enhance repeated sprint performance.

There have been some positive findings observed from athletes doing resistance training in a hypoxic environment such as increased muscle hypertrophy and growth hormone response. For players to do resistance training, including Olympic lifts in a hypoxic training can help maximise the training response both muscular and hormonal. There are numerous anecdotal reports from athletes who find they lift more and recover better when doing resistance training in a hypoxic environment.

When a player is injured and can’t carry out fully loaded workouts on the pitch, they can do unloaded ‘cross-training’ sessions in the gym to maintain their fitness levels. Doing those ‘cross-training’ sessions at simulated altitude will certainly provide a greater cardio fitness stimulus. Because a hypoxic environment increases metabolism and fat-burning, an injured player can avoid unwanted weight gain while injured. There are some reported therapeutic benefits of altitude exposure on healing of soft-tissue and bone injuries. Increased capillary density and thus peripheral blood flow and O2 delivery accelerates healing.

The biggest limiting factor to sporting performance is the availability and delivery of oxygen to the brain and the working muscles. When that homeostasis is altered in any way such as reducing oxygen availability for a given workload, it makes the workout more challenging triggering several physiological adaptive responses at muscular and cellular level, which if implemented carefully can improve performance!

For more information on Altitude Training contact:

Colin Griffin

The Altitude Centre Ireland


Twitter: @AltitudeIRL

Speed Training for GAA (part 1)

Posted: June 19, 2013 in GAA


Speed Training for GAA 

Ok so your 4-6 weeks out from your first club championship game of the year and your fitness coach/manager is introducing the team to some speed sessions to ‘sharpen things up’ before championship.

One of the biggest problems we see with a lot of club GAA teams is only doing speed-training weeks out from championship after doing continuous long runs through the pre season and league campaign.

Speed is one of the hardest components to train for and one of the most sought after in many sports so it doesn’t make sense to me to do this before the hardest part of the season. I’m a firm believer that it should be trained all year round.

There is more to speed for GAA than straight line sprinting so turning up on the training pitch and repeating runs isn’t going to cut it anymore I’m afraid.

Another mistake I see is club teams will do some form of strength and conditioning work in pre season and completely knock it on the head once the football starts which is counter productive. With strength the underlining to most things related to performance it amazes me not to do minimal of at least one S&C session a week to min performance.

This short post will focus mainly on the importance of strength and conditioning along with technique for speed/acceleration and provide you with a sample training session.

Failure to perform in-season S&C training results in significant decrements in physical performance

Schmidt et al. 2005

Minimal Dose of Strength Training to maintain strength for performance!

How many of you get at least one strength session in per week if you play sports like GAA, Rugby, sprinting and Running?


As little as 1 session per week can maintain muscle strength

and size for up to 8 months

…as long as intensity is maintained


As little as 1 set per exercise can maintain muscle strength

and size for up to 8 months

…as long as intensity is maintained


Unknown minimal dose, but it seems that intensity must be maintained as high as reasonably possible

Strength and Condition training block for in season GAA player will consist from mobility, flexibility, corrective work right through to strength training and Olympic lifts, its not going to the gym and doing heavy bicep curls to impress the ladies on the running machine. lets be honest we all done this at some stage 😉

Do you know the 5 ways to get faster on the GAA pitch?

1. Heavy weight lifting (strength training)

2. Jumps, medicine ball throws and ballistic lifts

3. Plyometrics

4. Sprint training

5. Refining running technique

What are the key elements that constitute ‘speed’ for GAA

• Acceleration

• Speed endurance

• RSA (repeated speed ability)

• Quickness

• Explosive power

• Agility

• Maximum speed/maximum velocity

• Deceleration

• Anticipation

• Reaction

• Movement pattern (linear, lateral, diagonal, reverse, turning, jumping)

• Speed under stress, strain & fatigue

Remember speed is a skill with many elements to it so you can improve it.

Perfect arm swing won’t make you faster but the wrong arm swing will slow you down so here are a few acceleration cues for you.

  • Push ground away
  • Forward and out before up
  • Punch the knee straight line from ankle to shoulder
  • Low body angle
  • Land on the ball of foot
  • Drive the elbows

Its rare you will hit max velocity during a GAA game as you need an open pitch without evading and changing direction but that doesn’t mean you don’t train for it. If you can run faster at top velocity it will improve your speed over 10/15/30 m. nobody ever got fast running slow so here a few cues for max velocity

  • Tall and relaxed
  • Head up, eyes up
  • Chest out
  • Arm action ‘cheek to cheek’ ‘hip to lip’
  • Toe up
  • Punch knees
  • Step over opposite knee
  • Explode through ground

Speed Sessions

All sessions require at least a 10- to 15-minute progressively increasing intensity warm up starting with mobility drills, building into ladders and mini hurdles, and with accelerations out of them.

  • Dynamic warm up drills for 10-15 minutes
  • Ladders: forward & lateral series
  • Hurdles: lateral series, march, skip, run + 10m accelerate out


Select two drills each session and do 50 foot contacts:

  • Bounding x 40m
  • Power Skip x 40m
  • Single leg hop L, to 20m R, to 40m, repeat with reverse distances
  • Repeat Long Jumps for distance, end to 20 meter
  • Repeat Hurdle jumps



Accelerations from different starts, 20 meters maximum distance, choose five and do two reps of each:

  • Three-point stance
  • Lying on chest
  • Lying on back
  • Standing, facing opposite direction
  • Long jump & go
  • Kneeling & go

Medicine Ball throws and sprint out after them, trying to touch or pass them on the second bounce of the MB. Do 10 throws from two different options each workout:

  • Rotational throw
  • Standing med ball push
  • Squat into push press
  • Backward overhead throw


Maximal Velocity

Select two drills from this list and do 400-600 meters total, slow walk back recoveries between maximal efforts. You do not get fast by running slow.

  • Flying 28s: build for 22m and then sprint maximally to the halfway line (28 meters)
  • In & Outs: hard for 20m, easy for 10m, hard for 20, easy for 10m
  • Change of direction cut: sprint hard for 30m, hard cut diagonal for 10m, then hard cut off other foot to straighten for another 30m

Straight sprints: 40m, 50m, 60m, 80m

In the next article I will cover how to get faster on the football pitch from the gym room from strength training, exercise selection, power circuits, plyometric’s and Do’s and don’t to get faster.

You can check out our pages through the following links for online coaching or private training sessions facebook Twitter Email address