GAA- Speed Training (Part 1)


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.

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