3 common mistakes GAA players make when trying to increase their speed

Looking to get faster this winter? Here are a couple of top tips.

Image: Matt Mackey/Press Eye

A SIMPLE GOOGLE search on how to run faster will give you an endless supply of YouTube videos and articles from so called “experts” on the topic of speed training.

This leads to outrageous drills and exercises being performed in search of the holy grail……SPEED.

In our years of coaching GAA teams we have seen our fair share of mistakes being made when it comes to trying to improve speed.

Having been lucky enough to spend some time working in the US with NFL players preparing to run the 40 yard dash in the combine, we know a thing or two about how to reach your potential when it comes to running fast.

Improving your speed is not something that can be done overnight. Fancy drills and equipment are not necessary, the basics done extremely well will do the job just fine.

Here are 3 common mistakes which we see on a regular basis.

1. Agility ladders

Search Google for any 100m race, ever. Look very carefully at the sprinters when the gun sounds, how many of them are taking short choppy steps? None, and if you see one who is then he/she is not going to cross the finish line first.

If you want to improve your acceleration or top end speed then don’t waste your time with agility ladders.

When you accelerate you want to put as much force into the ground as possible, get full hip extension and use your arms to assist the movement.

None of the above happens when you run through and agility ladder. It should feel as if you are not going that fast, next time you take off in a sprint think off pushing the ground away behind you with each step, not trying get as many steps in as possible.

2. Not addressing weak links in the gym

How do you think a F1 car would perform if it had three normal wheels and one square wheel? Not very efficiently.

The same applies to the human body, if there is a weakness or an imbalance somewhere in your body then performance is going to be impaired.

For example, a weak torso will lead to poor posture and in turn leak energy when you sprint.

General view of the Dublin players Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO


This means you fatigue at a faster rate and you are not operating at your full potential. Addressing these weak links with a well designed S&C programme will improve your strength, allowing you to put more force into the ground as mentioned above.

Gavin Cooney
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3. Not sprinting enough

As ridiculous as this may sound, it’s true.

Players get confused with sprint training and fitness training. They are two different types of training modalities.

Sprints should be performed at the start of a session, after the warm up when you are fresh. In order to get a training effect you must recover fully between sprints.

Players and managers are generally not keen on standing around during training but if you are looking to get the most out of your training then you need to allow almost full recovery after a maximal sprint.

For example, if it takes you around 6 seconds to sprint to the 45 yard line then you should allow yourself at least 60 seconds (ideally more) recovery before you perform another one.

If you are guilty of making some of these mistakes don’t worry, you are not the only one.

If you would like to learn more about how to improve your speed for GAA then check out our seminar this weekend. Details can be found here.

In association with Elite Physical Prep. Check out their websiteTwitter or Facebook for more information.

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