EDITO: ‘A style of coaching that has drowned young teenagers in statistics and strategy’

Minor teams need nice and caring coaches where kids come before they win the game.

These young players need quality mentors.

And often, in fact almost always, those coaches and managers have to come from the fathers of players or local men with a passion for the club.

It’s a wonderful thing about the GAA – and so many sports – that people devote so much of their time to volunteering and it’s a huge responsibility.

Because the performance of these volunteers could determine whether a child continues to play the sport or not. It also takes a lot of people’s time to go and prepare for training and then games.

But being a good coach at this level doesn’t require detailed stats or strategies that undermine the life of the game for young players. Being a top quality coach can be achieved when you support players and make practices/games enjoyable.

I’ve seen two types of hurling coaches recently; one in my home parish where good club men have created a strong team playing without the chains and it’s beautiful to see.

The match, even on a tough Sunday morning in November, looked like a lot of fun. Played with fluidity and immense talent; all players were supported and encouraged.

This is what the game should be; at this level anyway. Then I saw another style of coaching, in another county, in the country recently.

A style that drowned young teenagers in statistics and strategy, that made good players play a “system” that took the fun out of the game.

Young pitchers and footballers need to be protected and cared for. It’s the only way to keep them playing. Liam Sheedy, recently in the Irish Examiner, wrote: “The one question a parent should ask after practice and games when young is ‘Did you like it?’ Everything that follows is a bonus.

Local coaches, selectors and managers have a huge role to play in determining whether or not the child likes the sport.

If all coaches strived to make the game enjoyable for ALL panel members, results would inevitably follow.

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