You think pushing cars was tough?
By: Terry Reilly (c)
Western People, Nov 26, 2003.
REMEMBER the time Mayo footballers were directed, as part of their winter training, to push cars across a car park? Almost everyone made a song and a dance out of it. Blew it out of proportion. It was the butt of national jokes for weeks.There were other issues, perhaps deeper issues, involved between management and players, but that was the issue that was used to highlight coaching inadequacies.
This column at the time pointed out that there was nothing extraordinary in adapting to conditions and resources to get teams fit mentally and physically. As a student of the kind of mind games used in sport, I have (or had before the missus decided to clean out the study) a collection of ‘devices’ used by coaches around the world to get the best (or perhaps worst from their players)…guys in American colleges forced to climb flagpoles, or others confronted by a headless chicken thrown into the middle of a dressingroom–talk about blooding players! You get the drift.Naw. Pushing or pulling cars, even with handbrakes on was mild stuff compared to the tactics employed by coaches who are, depending on the results, either inspired or mad.
Anyway, I am starting a new collection of weird and wonderful examples used by coaches/psychologists aimed at getting that bit extra out of their charges. And the first item to be entered in the X (for Xtreme) File has to be the dossier from the South African rugby training camp in the lead up to the World Cup. The management team was utterly convinced that the players had to be mentally prepared to deal with the likes of England and New Zealand. The players, once the panel was chosen, were dispatched to Camp Steel Wire where they were met by former SA Task Force members and made to strip naked and leopard-crawl across gravel before getting dressed and repeating the exercise.They were then told they had to work through the night carrying tyres, poles and bags filled with sand and branded with England and New Zealand flags. Only those who passed the test were allowed food the next morning.
But worse was to come. They were ordered naked into a freezing lake to pump up rugby balls underwater. And when players tried to get out, they were, it is alleged, ordered back in at gunpoint. And the next night they were dropped off individually in the bush to spend the night on their own. They were each given a chicken, an egg and half a match so they could prepare their meal, which they were warned not to eat, The next morning the wretched souls were ordered to hand over their eggs which were broken on their heads to test if they were cooked.
And it did not finish there: The once-mighty Springboks were also crammed naked into a hole and subjected to the English anthem and New Zealand haka repeatedly as well as being doused with icy water.As we now know, the Springboks did not have a particularly successful World Cup, and some of the players bitched about the toughening up regime. However, captain Corne Kriege said while there were certain parts of the camp that worked, others he would not recommend.“It was trial and error. You go through certain things and decide ‘these are good and maybe these aren’t so good’. Most of the stuff was really good for team spirit,” he said.
So you see, it is all a matter of degree and relevance: pushing cars would have been a stroll in the park for the Springboks!
Liam Griffin speak
Second lot of collections into my new file are the sayings of former Wexford manager Liam Griffin, that most mesmeric of visionaries who once likened hurling to Riverdance. An avowed critic of GAA bullshitters, he made a scintillating contribution to the recent Dublin seminar on a plan for the revival of hurling in the city.
Looking down on over 400 Dubs he observed: “If we were now all on the field with a crowd of kids how much work would we get done today? My worry is that, often times, we thveryone made a song and a dance out of it. Blew it out of proportion. It was the butt of national jokes for weeks.There were other issues, perhaps deeper issues, involved between management and players, but that was the issue that was used to highlight coaching inadequacies.
This column at the time pointed out that there was nothing extraordinary in adapting to conditions and resources to get teams fit mentally and physically. As a student of the kind of mind games used in sport, I have (or had befo