This post was originally published on 19th January 2017
This week our GAA podcast 'The Hard Shoulder' has made its dramatic return, and we were delighted to welcome performance coach Enda McNulty as our special guest on the show.
The All-Ireland winner joined us in our Balls HQ to chat about his book Commit!, along with an in-depth discussion about a whole raft of aspects of performance in life and on the sports field.
The first thing that strikes you when you listen to McNulty is just that. You listen. We started by asking him what his number one piece of advice would be for a GAA player returning for a new season. Needless to say he has a more than just one suggestion:
My number one piece of advice would be step back before you step forward. Reflect on last year or the year before. Reflect on what have you done incredibly well. What are your biggest strengths? What did you enjoy most about last year in football? What were you most fulfilled doing?
Reflect on what was your motivation. How did you perform under pressure? What was your mental performance like? What was your strength and conditioning like? So do a comprehensive review of your year before getting into the really hardcore training again.
Then I would be really diligent about putting a plan together for 2017. Their own plan. Not a plan that the coach has, that the strength coach has or the performance coach has.
I don't mean a plan to get fitter. Every player plans to get fitter. How do they become more mentally strong? How do they become more resilient? How do they enjoy their football more? And it's a big thing I'm really passionate about; how can they make sure that every night on the pitch is a more enjoyable experience?
Like most people in his field, McNulty argues that everything comes back to one word - 'Motivation'. With the reflecting and planning done, he tells us that the next in any GAA player's preparation for the year is taking the plunge, fully aware of why you're actually doing it:
Commit. Commit to being a better footballer. Committing to get the most out of every gym session. Committing to get the most out of every pitch session. Committing to be the best they can be. We've heard that phrase being bandied about - 'be the best that you can be' - but striving to do that every single day is a big deal.
Which brings me back to motivation. What is the motivation or the meaning for being the best that you can be? Every night, every gym session, every speed session, every skills session, every rehab session, every pre-hab session ... What is the meaning and the motivation that's going to get you up to push on that last sprint at the end of a wet, cold night? ... The meaning and the motivation is everything.
When you consider that this was just - and not all of - the response to our first question, it goes without saying that Enda has plenty more wisdom to impart over the course of our conversation. You can listen to the full interview below:
Oh, and you can also watch the full director's cut on our YouTube channel.
Enda's book Commit! is published by Penguin Ireland and available in all good book stores.