Kilkenny GAA has undertaken a radical approach to address the rising number of injuries among young players.
The county’s new Performance GDA Sean Kelly completed a study to evaluate the impact of neuromuscular injury prevention programmes in adolescent males who play hurling. The was undertaken with the support of Comhairle Laighean.
The comprehensive report looked at the issues which are leading to young players being injured. Previous injuries, poorly managed rehabilitation programmes and over-use through games and training workload were identified as some of the main causes of player injuries.
The report also noted that as the rate of physical development can vary in young players it should be factored into age-appropriate programmes.
The report also identified the need for adequate sleep plus appropriate hydration and nutrition programmes as important in helping to reduce injuries in young players.
Mr Kelly’s study noted that where good warm-up programmes such as the GAA15 initiative are properly used that injuries can reduce from between 30% to 60%.
The outcome is that the player enjoys more playing time and is likely to deliver a better performance for his team. As part of the study Kilkenny will begin rolling out the GAA15 warm-up programme, initially to all development squads before following on with schools and finally clubs.
Another part of Kelly’s work involves leading the ‘Winter Programme’ with Kilkenny development squads. This delivers age-appropriate strength and conditioning programmes to improve player performance and reduce injuries.
In October 2017 squad members were screened for a variety of fundamental movement patterns. This was followed by an education programme for the young players on how to steadily improve their movement skills.
The programme, which continues on Saturday mornings in St Kieran’s College, is delivering impressive results. Assisting the Kilkenny Games Development staff in working with the young players are 12 interns, all of whom are studying a range of sports related courses in IT Carlow.
Kilkenny Coaching & Games will shortly roll-out a new physical development module for players under 13 years of age.
The Kilkenny Fundamental Movement 3 programme is aimed at setting aside 10 minutes at the start of each training session or game to allow young players to take on a warm-up programme. The programme will focus on fun activities, all of which incorporate fundamental movements to ensure developing young athletes are better prepared to participate in formal games activity.
Mr Kelly has a long involvement with Kilkenny underage inter-county squads and has also assisted a number of Kilkenny club teams. He recently graduated from IT Carlow with BSc. (Hons) Sports Science and MSc (Res.) Injury Prevention degrees.
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