Monday, April 02, 2007

Unfit to Practise

Last year, before I started playing camogie, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I could run 7 or 8 miles and was getting used to handling hills. I could scramble up to the top of the Sugarloaf quickly and get my breath back within a minute or two. The thing is, I'm built for distance, not for speed, and camogie is more about speed. It's ages of standing around punctuated by minutes of terror and flat-out effort.

My team last year practised once a week for most of the year. There were sometimes that we went twice a week, but mostly it was once a week. Although we did some running drills early in the season, by the middle of the summer, our sessions were mostly pucking around and then playing matches.

My new team is an entirely different proposition. Although the team is at the same level (bottom of the pile Junior B), the standard is a good bit higher. I knew it was a different sort of team the first practise – the coach had to leave early. Not only did everyone play until the end of practise, we did sprints after we were done playing. Sprints. I don't think my old team would have ever done unsupervised sprints as we barely did the supervised ones.

Within two weeks of starting back to the training, my new team is training twice a week. The coach is on a fitness kick – he doesn't want to have to say in the middle of the season that we would have won a match had we not been unfit for the last 10 minutes. So he's working us hard – sprinting and interval drills with sit-ups interspersed. I no longer think I am fit – I know I'm completely unfit. Forget the fact that I can run 7 miles – on the camogie pitch, that means absolutely nothing.

Last Wednesday, I was afraid I might puke after practise. (And then I had to drive the 35 miles home.) I am inordinately proud of myself for completing that practise, for running out every drill, and for not puking.

At the Friday practise, he took it easy on us. We did mostly skill drills and then played a match. I like playing against my new teammates although I find it especially challenging. They've all been playing since they were 6 and are good. I am easily the worst one on the team.

The standard for skills and playing is again much higher than it was in Dublin. We had maybe 2 girls who could put the sliotar over the bar from the 45 m. line. On this team, I think there are maybe 2 girls who can't do it. (Me being one of them.) I am in awe of the way these girls can hit the ball. I am also in awe of the way they can move, can get away from markers, and can get a ball away under pressure.

On my old team, it was understood that you toned down the aggression and physicality at practise. You were seen to be unsporting if you hip-checked or jostled anyone. I always thought this did us a huge disservice as we were rarely able to match the physicality of the best teams in our league. It's like when the Irish play the Aussies in International Rules – it's much easier for the Aussies to tune down their violence a notch than it is for the Irish to kick it up a notch. (Of course, given the last match I was at, I think the Irish would have had to kick it up about 10 notches to be on a level playing field with those brutes.)

I don't think physicality during matches is going to be an issue with my new team. (If anything, I think giving up frees might become an issue.) I don't mind the hard hits during practise either. I wear my bruises as badges of honour and I hope, by the time the season starts, I won't be unfit to practise anymore.


At 2 April 2007 at 09:27, Blogger Declan said...

"I was afraid I might puke after practise. (And then I had to drive the 35 miles home.)"

That cant be very safe and it's a touch of overkill by the coach (no pun intended).

A couple of years ago there was concern that some GAA coaches were pushing players too hard in a belief that there was no such thing as too much exercise. As a result players were picking up injuries and even heart attacks. Does your team provide any medical checks? And I dont mean one of the coaches mates sitting on the side lines with a bottle of water and a can of freeze spray. :-)

At 2 April 2007 at 11:00, Blogger Steven said...

I know what you mean in terms of the thinking you're fit thing. People suffer from the illusion that I'm fit. I'm nowhere near match fit for playing soccer.

You're referring to Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. It's extrmely rare in the population but it can never hurt to get it checked out.

At 2 April 2007 at 12:58, Blogger laurie said...

funny how you can be very fit in one way (running) and not at all fit in another way. it's all which muscles you work, and intensity. (when i was doing long-distance bicycling, for instance, i couldn't run for shit.)

i suspect you're extremely fit for a runner. you're just not camogie-fit.

i don't worry about you dropping dead during a game, but declan's right about the danger of injuries.

At 2 April 2007 at 16:31, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

It sounds like fun. I miss playing at team sport in a league.

At 2 April 2007 at 20:29, Blogger -Ann said...

Dec - They don't explicitly require medical checks (as far as I know) although one of our players is a doctor, so she's good to have around. If you need to slow down, the coach won't go mad - he does understand if you're not up to it. The bar is just way higher than I was accustomed to. (And sure, doesn't water cure everything anyway?)

I am careful to drink enough and to make sure I get something with sugar right after the match so I am okay for driving home. It was just garden variety muscle tiredness - I wouldn't drive if I was unsafe.

Steven - Yeah - fitness is deceptive and really depends on what you're trying to do. You must be dancing fit though - aren't you?

Laurie - I am crap at bike riding - the 7 minutes to work is about all I can manage.

Jack - It is fun. The GAA is one of the things I love most about Ireland. It's relatively simple to find a team and play.

At 4 April 2007 at 13:39, Blogger Steven said...

Not as much as I'd like to be. Well not at all being honest. I dance ballroom and right now I don't have a partner. Add to that the pressure of final year assignments and the whole fitness thing went by the wayside over the past few months.

I'm hoping to get some breaking (breakdance) done before the end of college though.


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