Hurling is catching on in America, and clubs are eager to show you more about the sport. Don’t hesitate to contact your local GAA.
St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, and that (according to my blog statistics) means that there’s a sudden, huge upswing in the interest in the sport of hurling here in America.
Well then, I’m glad you found Hurley to Rise. Since I started writing this blog in 2009, I’ve watched as this sport has grown exponentially across the United States.
Clubs are popping up in more and more cities here in the U.S., and not just the big, name-brand cities, but the smaller cities too. Likewise, there’s similar growth in colleges.
But if you’re looking into hurling for the first time, I figured you might be interested in learning the basics of the sport before you venture out to join your local club.
SOME TERMS: Over on this page, I have slowly been adding a list of hurling and gaelic football-related terms to help newcomers to the game. No need to be completely ignorant on the sport, right? (Seasoned American hurlers, please suggest terms to add!)
A QUICK OVERVIEW: The extreme basics of hurling are covered here. Most importantly, watch the video, which is the best explanation you’ll find of the sport. You can also learn more in this section of the Hurley to Rise blog: The basics of hurling
ATHLETIC LEVEL: The best hurling players in the world are in spectacular shape. In fact, many of the hurlers here in America look pretty good too. If you play, you might soon find yourself fit as a fiddle as well. But to start out in the game, you don’t need to be an amazing athlete — or any sort of athlete at all (which was/is my case). This is a sport that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. If you can accept the fact that you may never be a master at it, you can play. My advice, just give it a try and have fun.
PHYSICAL CHALLENGES: In hurling, you do a lot of running — usually in the form of stop-and-go sprinting. You also might get bumped around by other players. That being said, I’m a horrible sprinter. Slow as molasses, in fact. To me, it doesn’t matter. I just like to get out there and my teammates seem to be accepting of that.
SKILLS: Aside from running around a lot, there’s a few other skills (hitting and catching the ball) you’ll develop as a hurler. I have offered tutorials of these skills in a variety of blog posts. I suggest you check out some of them by visiting the “Skill Development” section.
WHAT TO BRING:Aside from enthusiasm and a willingness to try something new, you should:
- Wear shorts and a t-shirt.
- Bring a water bottle.
- Bring a spare t-shirt, too. One of your shirts should be light colored (white or yellow), the other should be dark (Navy, black, dark green or dark brown). The spare is so you can be split into teams for a scrimmage.
- If you have them, bring cleats, otherwise sneakers are fine.
- If you’re of drinking age, many clubs have drinks after their practice, so bring some money for that.
- If you have some sort of sports helmet (Lacrosse helmets being the best), bring it.
- A towel to wipe down is also a good thing.
EQUIPMENT: Most clubs will have spare equipment available. You won’t have to bring your own hurley (the stick) or sliotar (the ball). Helmets are usually at a premium, but many clubs do have spares. Once you decide whether or not you like the sport, you can order your own later on.
COST: Hurling isn’t a very expensive sport despite the unique nature of it. Here’s a rundown:
- Stick ($35-$75)
- Ball ($10 per ball. We’d suggest you get at least 3 of your own)
- Helmet ($110. Often provided by the club.)
- Membership fee (Varies. My club’s yearly fee is less than $100)
- Traveling (Varies. Many clubs travel to other cities for games. This isn’t a requirement, but it’s a lot of fun)
WHAT ELSE? Quite simply, prepare to have a lot of fun. Prepare for some exciting challenges. Hurling is a great game, and we welcome you to it.