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Training Session Planner : Val Andrews

Val Andrews – Sports Lecturer and Consultant
Val Andrews – Sports Lecturer and Consultant

Val Andrews is vastly experienced in the sporting industry, a former sports management and business lecturer in IT Blanchardstown and an inter county GAA manager. Val provides us with an insight into the level of planning involved for training sessions at an elite level, and provides a framework that coaches can follow.

The importance of planning training cannot be under-estimated. The culture within a team is set by the coach, and with planning a coach can ensure he/she optimises the benefits of each session. All training activities should be outcome based as they are player centred. All coaches should learn how to draft correct coaching outcomes. Coaches can state the expected outcomes, using the framework below and then analyse sessions to ensure that the desired outcomes are delivered.

Firstly, here is a simple warm up that includes physical preparation with some skills based activities to ensure players are ready both physically and mentally for a session. The below session example is based on an inter county GAA team, this can be adapted to suit the needs of teams in different age groups or sports as needed. The framework can provided here can be used to plan sessions across multiple sports.


  • Warm up is skills based. Use the ball at every opportunity.

  • All sections are time based. Increases intensity and focus. Minimises time wasting on transition from one activity to another.

  • No objectives set only coaching outcomes. The rationale being that it is about the player, not the coach. Outcomes are written to put focus on the player. At the end of the session the player will have….

  • RPE a desired level of player exertion. Post training session player feedback required.

  • Energy systems. All coaches should have knowledge of game demands (GPS data) and the energy systems which are utilised in the different scenarios. First energy system listed is the target one for that activity.

  • Progression from, 1v1 through 2v2 to full game

  • Principles are usually 15 v 15 conditioned game. Style of play. Every session if you want your team to execute game plan on match day. Repetition Over 20 Principles.

  • Scenario, mass defence, man sent off, last five minutes winning, last five minutes losing, not conceding a goal, needing a goal, push up strategies etc.

  • Short games in duration, gives increased concentration, focus and effort.

  • Games designed to increase decision making.

  • Reflection section is immensely important. Prepare using a framework such as Gibbs, O Driscoll, professors John’s Model (Example below)

  • Practice your coaching questions. If you are not asking questions you are not coaching.

  • Minimise speaking directly at players.

  • Emphasis on implicit learning and problem-based learning.

  • Sessions should be player lead.

  • Session plan should be issued day before training session. Minimise time loss on transition and explanation.

  • Pre-session, questions in a player led meeting. Clarification of session.

  • Session set-up prior to player arrival.

  • T. Coaches arrive before players for coaches’ meeting. Roles allocated, session clarification.

Any coaches who would like a template of the framework can contact us at

About The Author:

Val Andrews – Sports Lecturer and Consultant

Val Andrews is an experienced lecturer and inter county manager. Having managed Cavan (Twice) and Louth, Val also managed Leinster to Railway Cup successes in 2005 and 2006. Val was also involved in nurturing Dublins current crop of stars, having worked with development squads between 2006-10. Having lectured in sports management and coaching theory, Val appreciates what is required to compete at an elite level, and how to build structures for sustainable success in sport.


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