A meeting of Croke Park’s Covid-19 Advisory Group is scheduled for Monday.
They’ll discuss the continuation of lockdown for an additional six weeks, up to March 5. Yet, like everyone else, that body of experts is in the dark about when football and hurling will return.
The January 15 date for collective inter-county training has come and gone. February 27-28 is the beginning of the national leagues, but they won’t happen. April 17 is the listed start of the championship, though no one can say that will go ahead, either.
While officials ponder, players, managers, and coaches are involved in pre-season training to varying degrees and levels. Last season, Douglas used Actimet, an app for coaches and players to monitor their training.
Strength and Conditioning coach Adam McCarthy praised the app, which was founded by two members of the Galway hurling management, Lukas Kirszenstein and Rory McGauran, as well as South African Edward Kaschula.
McGauran, who is head of operations at Actiment, said there has been a dramatic increase in teams signing up this year.
“Management teams are learning more about the power of subjective athlete monitoring, where athletes share their perception of training intensity and wellness. GAA, soccer, and rugby teams are using Actimet to help replicate that pre-season effort level for players who, right now, are forced to train on their own.
“The information is easily shared, via the Actimet Athlete mobile app, and viewed by coaching teams, via the Actimet coach portal.”
One of the many benefits is the ease of communication between coach and player during lockdown.
Coaches now understand the impact their training is having on players.
“From a club and wellness perspective, it gives players a chance to not only show a readiness to either train or play, but also to highlight any issues relating to home or work that the club could try and help out.
“That’s very relevant now and I think people are paying more attention these days.
“The feedback we got last year was very good and any club that was involved with us in 2020 is back again, even though they mightn’t be back training just yet,” McGauran said.
Connacht Rugby have a few teams in their academy and they’re on board, as are local clubs Corinthians and Galwegians, while Galway United have it for their academy.
And the app is also being used in Europe.
“We translated the programme into Polish and we’ve seven or eight Premier or Division 1 teams in the professional game over there.
“Hungary and Bulgaria have just signed up with us, though I’ve no idea how they found us, and Spurs’ women’s team, along with Galway’s women side, are also using it,” McGauran said.
Club players are at different stages of pre-season, so it’s about more than just staying in shape.
“Clubs have strength-and-conditioning coaches working with them and they’re developing different areas, like strength, agility, and speed,” McGauran said. “The app helps S&Cs understand how sessions are impacting on players.
For example, if a player believes a session was too tough, the coach can adjust accordingly for that individual.
“And that’s done from the feedback coming from the player, in a situation where the coach doesn’t actually have to see the player.
“Another important issue is the matter of avoiding injury. If a coach sees a player putting in a lot of heavy intensity, there might be a need to pull it back a bit,” McGauran said.
“That was the original idea of the app, that the perception of somebody finding training very hard, over a sustained period of time, resulted in a very strong likelihood of injury. And it’s also the case if they’re moving from doing very little to something very hard, because research has shown the risk of injury rises dramatically in the next 10-12 days.”
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