‘Don’t be caught up too much in science or lecturing when you’re on the sideline or in the dressing room’

Updated Jan 20th 2021, 5:00 PM

THIS WEEK’S GUEST on How To Win At Dominoes, The42′s coaching podcast with Shane Keegan, is Cork U20 football boss Keith Ricken.

After watching Ricken give a presentation at the GAA’s 2020 Coaching Conference, Keegan describes him as “one of the most captivating coaches I’ve ever encountered.”

The man who led Cork U20 footballers to the All-Ireland title in 2019 has also been involved in the club hurling scene with Carrigtwohill in recent years.

Ricken has a refreshing attitude to coaching, where he takes a player-centred approach.

“Don’t be caught up too much in science or lecturing when you’re on the sideline or in the dressing room,” he tells Shane of his philosophy.

“Learning becomes a barrier, you know like when you’re in school it’s a good teacher that can break down the barrier because automatically you sit at the desk and before you take out your books you put up the barrier: ‘Jeez, I could be listening to this one now for the next hour’.

“But when you come into a dressing room, you’re dropping down the barrier. Out onto the pitch, you’re dropping down the barrier and that’s where you’re receptive. I think it’s a great chance to influence people.

“Structure and too much structure frightens me. I envy people who have great routines…I would be the complete opposite. I find that the more that you know, the more you want to tell people what you know.”

Ricken goes on to tell a story about an occasion when too much focus was put into the scientific side of the game.

“I was at a match and a particular guy who is senior inter-county, he has two All-Ireland medals, was on the team,” he says.

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“It was a colleges match. They had GPS units on all the lads. And yer man’s GPS was barely…actually if you were watching it you’d nearly say he was nearly flatlined, that they’d nearly have to bring in the machine to give him an aul jump start.

“The fella on the other wing was after picking up about 9km, he was breaking his hole. This is at half-time and [the manager was saying], ‘He’s after covering nearly 9km and this fella, look, jaysus, he’s not even breaking a sweat. We have to take him off to show him he’s not working.’

“I wasn’t involved with the team now but I just made a point to the lads. ‘It’s nothing to do with me,’ I said, ‘but he has 1-8 scored and yer man [on the other wing] has three points.’

“I just made the observation that he got 1-8. So if he does nothing for the second-half that’s 2-16 [he’ll have scored]. That’s a fair good return for me.”

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