Developing Your Child’s GAA Skills

Jill Holtz

October 20, 2011

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In this article, Peadar, GAA fan and kids’ coach gives some advice on developing your child’s GAA skills.

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Movement and ball manipulation skills should be developed in the early years of physical development. This helps to provide the basis for all further development as your child grows.

Typically these skills are used as elements of warm-up activities for both developing and elite players.

Good GAA resources

There are a couple of great resources available to help develop your child’s GAA skills:

The Activity Planner

On the GAA website you can find the Activity Planner and if you tick Ball Sense there are some activities to do and you can filter by different ages.

The Fun Do Learning Resource Pack

The “Fun Do Learning Resource Pack” which you can buy from the GAA, details can be found on the GAA website.

The pack is divided into separate hurling or football packs, and describes over 500 games and skill development activities for players from 4 – 12 years.

Included in the Fun Do Learning pack are:

  • ABC Programme
  • Have a Ball Programme
  • Sample Sessions

The ABC Programme

The ABC Programme provides a range of activities which can be used to develop movement skills incorporating Agility, Balance, Co-ordination, Running and Jumping.

ABC stands for Acquiring Bilateral Coordination, whereby each of the skills are developed on the left and right sides of the body, using left and right hands and feet.

Within the ABC Programme, for each of the 5 skills outlined, there are three levels of exercise – Level 1 being the easiest, Level 2 moderately difficult and Level 3 most difficult. With an average of 8 exercises within each level, there are approximately 120 exercises, which can be used to develop movement skills.

As the exercises are grouped based on ability level, many exercises can be substituted for each other while keeping the difficulty level of the session consistent. This helps to ensure that sessions are varied, both for the players and the coach.

Remember that movement skills should be developed throughout a player’s career, so these activities can also be used with older age groups, most commonly as warm up activities.

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The Have a Ball Programme

The Have a Ball Programme provides a range of activities which can be used to develop ball manipulation skills. These skills include Throwing, Catching & Passing, Kicking and Striking. Activities in this section focus on the participants’ ability to play with and manipulate balls of various sizes, shapes and weights.

There are activities that can be used to develop each of the ball manipulation skills. As there are also three difficulty levels outlined, with an average of 8 exercises per level, the Have a Ball Programme offers a bank of approimately 100 exercises that can be used interchangeably.

The Sample Sessions

The Sample Sessions provide coaches with a number of ideas in terms of structuring and/or varying their sessions. A number of blank sessions are also included on the basis that coaches will be able to build a bank of quality sessions which reflect and contribute to best coaching practice.

Cúl Summer Camps

The GAA Cúl Camps provide boys and girls – between the ages of 6 and 13 – with an action-packed and fun-filled week of activity during the summer holidays which revolves around maximising enjoyment and sustaining participant involvement in Gaelic Games. There are camps in every county across Ireland.

Try This at Home with Your Child

Parents, try this at home with your kids: substitute a balloon for a ball etc then use your imagination to give them little things to try out.

The key focus is getting your kid(s) to

  • move
  • develop co-ordination
  • develop balance and
  • have fun!!

Have you any tips for parents for developing their child’s GAA skills? Share them with us in the comments below.


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