Groundbreaking GAA Ready to Play Programme to be launched

18th February 2021

The Gaelic Games family today launched ‘Be Ready to Play’, a Coaching and Sport Science programme in association with UPMC, official healthcare partner of the GAA and GPA, that will be delivered via webinars, website programmes, instructional videos and live online sessions.

The programme is a holistic coaching and performance plan that will be of great benefit to all club coaches and players, male, female, adult, and youth alike.

It will help them return to training post Covid in a way that will hopefully increase enjoyment, performance, and participation, while simultaneously reducing the risk of injury.

The programme will initially be tailored to help people be active in lockdown, then progress towards a development phase and a prepare to play phase before culminating in a prepare to perform phase which will help players be at their peak for important matches.

What makes the ‘Be Ready to Play’ programme such a great opportunity for those who participate, is that they will benefit from the advice and direction of some of the most renowned leaders in the field of coaching and performance.

These include Des Ryan, Shayne Murphy, Annie McCarra, Michael Dempsey, Cathal Cregg, Aoife Lane, Niall Moyna, Bryan Cullen, Dr. Liam Hennessy, Sharon Madigan, Phil Kearny, Denis Martin, Kate Kirby, Shayne Murphy, Aidan O’Connell, Cairbre Ó Cairealláin, Martin McCarthy, David Kelly, and Louise Keane.

Areas covered will include games-based coaching, athletic development, psychology and wellbeing, nutrition, performance analysis, skill acquisition and biomechanics, physiotherapy, and injury prevention.

This multi-disciplinary programme will be delivered by

· Fortnightly Athletic Development Programmes. (Instructional Video & Live Sessions).

· Monthly Coach education webinars (Gaelic Games Coaching Experts & Guests).

· Monthly Sport Science support webinars (Every Sports Science Discipline covered).

Des Ryan, Head of Sport Medicine and Athletic Development at Arsenal FC and Athletic Development Lead with the Gaelic Games Sports Science Working Group, is one of the main drivers behind what he believes will be a ground-breaking programme.

Ryan said: “We'll make it enjoyable, challenging, progressive and very user friendly. It will be an evidence informed plan of returning to training and returning to play that will help you avoid injury, maximise enjoyment and reach peak performance when required.

“This will include a top-class athletic development programme and I don’t say that lightly. There is nothing being done on the scale of this anywhere else in the world that is so multi-disciplined.

“Many topics will be covered including injury prevention, game-based skills development, psychology and wellbeing, skill acquisition and biomechanics, performance analysis, rehabilitation, nutrition and athletic development.

“I can categorically say that the club players in Ireland that takes part in our ‘Be Ready to Play’ programme will have the best management team in Gaelic Games available online.

“It would be great to have the majority of club players on the island of Ireland registering and, at the very least, seeing what this programme has to offer because I guarantee you there'll be something for everyone in it.”

Shane Flanagan, the GAA’s Director of Coaching & Games Development, said: “Be Ready to Play has been developed to support and optimise the opportunity presented through this pandemic whereby all clubs will be preparing in unison - a heretofore unusual feature within the Gaelic Games landscape.

“The programme is exceptionally well-designed and is holistic in its content and delivery and above all tailored with the club player and coach in mind. The programme will be adaptive to mirror changes in public health guidelines. As a current senior coach with my club, I am very much looking forward to engaging in this programme and learning from the best practice advice and guidance - which are so important in terms of sustaining my own and our club players motivation. The programme has the potential to leave a legacy by providing collateral to support future player and coach development initiatives.

“I'd especially like to thank UPMC for their support on a project that aligns very much with their values and vision for player development and welfare. Huge credit must go to Sports Science Workgroup - especially Des Ryan - who has driven this project and the many staff around the country who have supported its development and will lead its implementation.

“In Setanta College and through Shayne Murphy and Annie McCarra we will bring a wealth of experience and expertise. Finally, I'm delighted this is another collaboration with LGFA and Camogie and presents an opportunity for all club teams to work together and engage in this programme.”

Lyn Savage, National Development Manager with Ladies Gaelic Football, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with the GAA and Camogie Association through the Gaelic Games Sports Science Group to support players and coaches, both of youth and adult teams, as they prepare for their return to play.

“It has been a difficult few months for everyone involved and it will be essential to ensure our members get back safely on the pitches renewing their enjoyment levels and reducing the risk of injuries. We urge all coaches and players to access this wealth of knowledge from the experts in the weeks ahead and put into practice in your own counties and clubs.”

Louise Conlon, Technical Development and Participation Manager with the Camogie Association said: “It is fantastic to see this important initiative come to fruition as we aim to ensure that when it is safe for our members to return to training pitches around the country, that they can do so as prepared as possible.

“The skills and information which members will gain through this initiative will help to engage members over the coming weeks, as we all wait eagerly to return to the games we love. We recommend and encourage that members of all ages and at all playing levels take part in this initiative so that they can hit the ground running when we return to action!”

David Beirne, Managing Director of UPMC in Ireland and SVP of UPMC International, said: “UPMC are changing how healthcare is delivered in Ireland and we are excited to become the title partner of the ‘Be Ready to Play initiative in association with UPMC. This is an important programme that will be delivered to players and coaches in every corner of Ireland to help ensure they are best prepared for the much-anticipated return of our games. UPMC are proud to be the official healthcare partner of the GAA and GPA and as an organisation that is recognised globally as a leader in sports medicine and rehabilitation, we are delighted to be able support and help deliver this initiative.”

The ‘Be Ready to Play’ programme will commence on 2nd March with a live broadcast to outline the programme available and the schedule of coaching and sports science webinars. This will be presented by Des Ryan and others after which registration to participate in the programme will open.