Speed makes the difference in hurling
I have long written that my biggest problem to playing the game of hurling well is that I am too big and because of that I am too slow.
Time and time again — in practice and in games — I am bested not because these guys have better stick handling skills than me or better game awareness, but because they are just faster than me.
A recent article from the Irish Sun spotlights Graeme Mulcahy, a corner forward for the County Limerick team, and basically says he’s dominating the field for the team simply because he’s so darn fast.
The need for speed is further highlighted in an advice page available from L’Ash Go Leor, a hurley maker in Ireland. (I was recently referred there by some inter-club correspondence between players on the Baltimore Bohemians squad. Thanks, guys!)
The advice offered by the L’Ash folks says the same thing: You need speed.
Having great foot speed offers you two important (and obvious) benefits:
- You can catch your opponent
- You can get away from your opponent
What happens between catching and getting away is another skill set entirely, but being able to “get in their face” and “run away” when the time is right can make or break your offense and defense in the game of hurling — or practically any sport.
So the question is a simple one “How do I increase my foot speed?”
Advice from Active.com – In this article, the writer makes a few suggestions that can be transferred to hurling.
- Loose grip – When you’re running with your hurley and/or the ball, don’t hold them in a death grip. Keep things loose and mobile. An opposing player might be more prone to stripping the ball from you, but hopefully you will be out of their reach.
- Running Stance – Running on the balls of your feet make you faster, the article says. This is quite different from the typical game run most people have. In hurling you need to do lots of stops, starts and direction changes. But in those instances when you’re trying to catch up to someone else, the long strides you make by running on the balls of your feet might help.
Exercise tips from BodyBuilding.com – For some of us, the speed just isn’t there. This article offers several exercise ideas that should add speed by increasing leg strength and running endurance. I think that exercises five (skipping) and six (hopping mini hurdles) would be especially helpful.
Video from DailyMotion.com – In this video, the training coach says that you shouldn’t even bother with half-speed or even quarter-speed training. He wants you to train at 100 percent speed because it’s that speed that burns itself into your nervous system and muscle memory. He also suggests Googling “Foot Speed drills.”
Drills from Stack – This article offers some foot speed drills directed toward lacrosse players, probably the sport most like hurling from a physical standpoint. In particular, the writer suggests you get or build a speed ladder, a grid on the ground made of tape or rope. This is kind of like the tire drill you see in movies about military basic training or football practices.
More drills from Corey Crane – This video also offers some lacrosse-based foot speed drills on the ladder.