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26 Jan 2022

'Balancing commitments' the biggest obstacle for GAA coaches - study

'Balancing commitments' the biggest obstacle for GAA coaches - study

'Balancing commitments' the biggest obstacle for GAA coaches - study

Gaelic games coaches find it hard to balance their roles within the sport with other commitments, a new study has uncovered.

The GAA, LGFA and Camogie Association joined forces to conduct the largest ever coach development survey undertaken in Irish sport.

The findings of Coaching and Coach Education in Gaelic games: a benchmark report have been published with a detailed report supported with assistance from UCC, Mary Immaculate College, DCU, UCD, Ulster University, IT Sligo and University of Georgia.

Based on the responses from more than 10,400 participants, a clear picture of the volume of work being undertaken by our volunteer coaches has been established.

The aim of this research was to collect population data about the coaching workforce across all levels of Gaelic games participation to inform coach development policy, implementation, and management at National, Provincial, County, School and Club levels.

The coaches that participated in this survey were predominantly male (79%), aged between 25 – 54 (85.7%), and experienced, with 89.8% having more than 5 years' coaching experience.

Coaches in Gaelic games reported being very active: 39.8% coach two or more Gaelic games codes. A significant majority of coaches engage in coaching on multiple days each week (78.3%).

In terms of time spent, coaches are spending on average seven and a half hours a week on their commitment to coaching – which can rise to on average an additional nine hours on match weeks.

Almost two-thirds of coaches (63.1%) intend to continue coaching for the foreseeable future (more than two years), with just 2.5% of coaches declaring that they do not intend to continue coaching.  

Those coaches who intend on continuing to coach identified several issues which may impact on their coaching futures. The most prominent issue was ‘Balancing Coaching with Other Demands’ (73.8%), while approximately one third of respondents mentioned either Poor Games Opportunities/Structures (28.3%) or Scheduling of Competitions (35.4%) as challenges facing coaching. These responses were made before the GAA’s move towards a defined split season between inter-county and club activity.

An overwhelming majority of the respondents consider future learning to be important to their coaching (94.6%), with 71.2% of respondents ‘Quite Likely’ or ‘Extremely Likely’ to undertake some form of coach education in the next 12 months. 

Welcoming the report, Lyn Savage, Ladies Gaelic Football Association National Development Manager stated: “The LGFA was delighted to collaborate with the GAA and Camogie Association on this significant coach development survey. The findings of ‘Coaching and Coach Education in Gaelic games: a benchmark report’ comes at an exciting time for coach development in Gaelic Games, following the recent launch of our new player pathway. This report will provide an invaluable insight into the coaching workforce as we embark on the development of a new Gaelic Games Coach pathway.

“Coaches play an integral part in the development of our players and it is imperative that the appropriate support is in place to meet their needs, to enable them to complete their role effectively. This was a huge body of work that will help shape the future of coach education and development across the Gaelic Games family.”

Louise Conlon, Camogie Association Technical Development & Participation Manager said: “The Camogie Association is delighted to have collaborated with the GAA and LGFA in one of the biggest ever coaching surveys conducted in Irish sport. This detailed research conducted by the Gaelic Games Family will help shape the future development of Gaelic games.

“For the first time, the Gaelic Games Coach Survey provided a unique opportunity for coaches within all three Associations to provide an insight into their role, and their needs. With 10, 647 respondents, it makes it one of the most comprehensive coaching studies ever undertaken.

“These findings provide the GAA, LGFA, and Camogie Association with detailed information on their coaching workforce to inform the development of coaching policies moving forward. I would like to acknowledge and thank the work of the staff within all three Associations and the many volunteers and coaches who have contributed to the Gaelic Games Coach Survey.”

Shane Flanagan, GAA Director of Games Development added: “This survey has painted an important picture not only of the impressive scale of the work being done by volunteer coaches supported by our Coach Developers -  but also in showing the calibre of people we are fortunate to have dedicating their time and effort for the promotion of Gaelic games at all levels.

“Their passion for coaching and education and their thirst for knowledge and best practice presents us with a challenge to ensure that our volunteer coaches feel they are supported, valued and we serve their needs. 

“Working in conjunction with the Gaelic Games Player Pathway, this report will allow the GAA, the LGFA and the Camogie Association to develop and deliver for our coaches a new Coach Development Framework that focuses on enhancing coaching skills to support the development of our players. I want to join with our sister organisations in thanking all of those who assisted us in conducting this research, and also our third-level partners for their invaluable support and analysis.”

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