Young players have more than twice as many games as seniors
Talented young GAA dual stars are playing more than twice as many games per year as their adult colleagues, leading to problems which can have long term implications, according to a strength and conditioning expert.
Damien Young, lecturer in S&C at the Limerick IT/Setanta College facility and a former Tipperary hurling goalkeeper, is also concerned that players in the 18-21 bracket play more often than at any time in their careers.
"It doesn't make sense. There's a complete imbalance there," he explained.
The stress on young dual players is increased by being less prepared for the pressures put on their bodies.
"The adult player is more seasoned, more ready and more conditioned but has fewer games than a teenager," observed Young.
"In this schedule, there is very little time available for the teenager to complete an injury prevention and conditioning programme to withstand the amount of games he is expected to play.
"He is playing more games at this stage than at any time for the rest of his career," added Young. "We know that there is a severe imbalance of games between youth and adult players.
"An 18-year-old player who may have limited conditioning, stability and possible flexibility and mobility imbalances resulting from their growth spurt, could play as many as 50 games in a year whereas an adult will play perhaps 20."
Young, who is a specialist in child and youth movement skill development, is leading a study into the level of activity of both single- and dual-code teenage players in Tipperary.
Both Tipperary minor hurlers and footballers reached this year's All-Ireland finals and while both were beaten by Galway and Kerry respectively, their progress shows how well both codes are doing. However, that brings its own challenges for players, coaches and the fixture-makers.
Young will be among the speakers at the 'Developing and Maximising Youth Potential' conference which takes place at the LIT Sportslab, Thurles next weekend.
More information is available at www.setantaconferences.com