We are almost at the halfway point of the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues, and so far we’ve seen some fantastic performances from teams all over the country. We’ve learned that pre-match routines are very important, and that all the impressive and stylish moments of play we see happening on the pitch are down to the work put in at training.
To get some insight on just how much work goes into preparing a team for league level, we spoke to Strength and Conditioning coach for Dublin Camogie, John Matthews, who has been with the team for two years now. John let us in on how hard the Dublin ladies work both on and off the pitch, the gym exercises that he recommends, and the importance of recovery.
So you’re the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Dublin Camogie Team, tell us a bit about that?
“My role as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with the Dublin Camogie team is to prepare the girls for the highest level of performance in competition. I start this at the very beginning of the year. The year is periodic, based on when the girls are in competition. This will be built around different phases of gym and pitch work, for example screening and movement, prehab, the general preparation phase, strength capacity, conditioning, speed and agility sessions and the list goes on. My aim is to hit competition time where the girls are at a level of peak performance.”
How many gym sessions do you do with the team each week?
“Now that we are in season the girls will do two gym sessions a week, depending whether it’s a training week or competition week, the load may vary in each session. The girls will also do a recovery session after each game/heavy session.”
On match day what routine do you follow?
“I believe routine starts the week of a match. The girls will make sure their nutrition and recovery is on point throughout the week making sure they eat the right foods and get enough fluids in each day, to maximise their performance. On match day, the girls will do some soft tissue work in the morning, and when they arrive to the pitch we will get working on some movement/activation work in the dressing rooms before we go into main phase of warm up on the pitch.”
What are your top three gym moves for camogie players and why?
“Each individual has their own specific needs based on a number of different factors (injuries, postural needs, strength levels etc). Three exercises that I believe all camogie players should bring into their own training would be two lower body unilateral exercises, and one upper pull exercise.
“It’s a great exercise for all players to do, it is slightly more sport specific than the back squat. It’s a great way to load up on the legs without putting too much pressure on the back and if you are a beginner to weight training it is a great lower body exercise to start off with.”
“This is a great exercise to strengthen the posterior chain (Gluteus muscles and hamstrings). It’s very important that we target these muscle groups especially in a field game like camogie. This can also be used as a great warm up exercise on the pitch before training sessions to load up on hamstrings. Overall it’s great for working on stability, teaching good movement patterns with the hip hinge, and it can be easily progressed by adding in weights.”
“Again, this is another great exercise if you are new to weight training. The beauty of this one is that it only involves your own body weight. It’s perfect for targeting the upper back which most people need. If we sit down during the day at school/college/work we are in a bad posture position with shoulders forward, so this is a great and simple exercise to open up the body and build some really good upper body strength while you’re at it.”
In terms of recovery, after a match or a tough training session what do you advise?
“First thing I advise my players to do directly after a session is to get a recovery shake in straight away followed by a shower- simple but effective steps to start the recovery process. This continues when they go home by having a good meal and adequate sleep that night.
“Post match day then I would look at doing some light pool work, or if you don’t have access to a pool to do some light low impact cardio for 10-15 minutes, with soft tissue and flexibility work. Recovery is where a lot of players fall down, with no recovery system in place it means players aren’t playing to their full potential when they return to training next.”
What do you like most about your job?
“What I love about my job is the whole environment I work in. Between management and players everybody is looking to improve that extra bit each week. It keeps me on my toes that the girls are always asking what can they do outside of training to improve as an individual, be it their footwork, speed, strength or own rehab exercises.
“The level of commitment given by the Dublin girls is absolutely amazing! As a coach it’s great to see your players improve each week from the hard work they put in each training session. That’s the real joy for me in coaching, knowing that the help and advice I provide is helping people become better players.”
What advice do you tell the girls before they go onto the pitch?
“To be honest I’m not a big talker come match day, I believe that if we have prepared ourselves right in the weeks leading up to a game then we have nothing to fear. Sometimes all a player needs to know is that you’re confident in them as a coach. They’re here for a reason because they are the best. The hard work is done now go out and enjoy it.”
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