Official Connacht GAA Website

Official Website of Connacht GAA

Nursery Programme

The ABC/Have-a-Ball Nursery Programmes are a series of fun-based exercises to develop basic movement and motor skills for children aged 4 to 6 years old. These skills form the basis for the later development of the specific skills of Hurling and Gaelic Football.

Guiding Principles:

MAGIC Principle:

M – Motivational

Children will be motivated to participate if the activities are varied and fun

A – Age-Appropriate

Activities must be appropriate to the development level of each child

G – Growth

Activities must take into consideration the progress of each child. They must be carefully pitched at the appropriate level so that they are neither too difficult nor too easy, but ultimately provide a challenge to the child’s ongoing development and growth.

I – Individualized

Activities must target all ability levels

C – Child centered

Activities should allow the child to be at the center of their learning


FUNdamental movement skills (FMS) provide the building blocks to develop more sports specific skills. Just as we would hardly expect children to read without first knowing letters, we should not expect a child to play a physical activity without mastering the ABC’s (Agility, Balance, Coordination). These skills should be developed in a structured way with FUN being the central theme



Nursery Programme (content)
Stage 1. Me and My Ball (Learning to master the ball)
Technical Football

Catching and passing: The ability to catch the ball to take possession and pass the ball to release possession

Kicking: Should be developed using a variety of balls and bean bags from stationary to bounce to punt kick.

Throwing: This forms the basis for many Gaelic skills and should be developed using variety of balls and bean bags

Striking: Essential for developing players in football and hurling. Progress from using the hand to other objects

then onto hurleys.


Holding the Hurl: To able to do the grip, ready, lock position correctly.

Pick Up: Pick up the ball with non- dominant hand and set down again. This learns the correct technique for the jab lift/ roll lift.

Throwing: Essential for working non- dominant hand. This includes bowling the ball.

Striking: Ground strike stationary ball (left and right side).

Two handed dribble (left and right side). Introduce bean bag solo.

*Only introduce & develop if confident

and competent in FMS.

Physical Agility: Ability to change direction quickly and control movement of whole body.

Balance: The ability to maintain a stable body position.

Co-ordination: The ability to move different body parts at the same time

Running: It is important that players have good running technique and posture.

Jumping: To develop their true potential players need to develop the ability to jump in a variety of directions, and land effectively.

Tactical Spatial Awareness: Identify and move to space. Avoid crashing (side stepping and dodging).
Team Play Target Games: For throwing, catching, kicking and striking.

Learn to take turns and be part of a team: Relays and races.

Psycho/Social Develop self-esteem: Feel good about oneself and comfortable in the environment.

Positive Thinking: About sport, physical activity and friendships.

Concentration: Help to improve these levels.

Coaching Style Direct style

Create a Fun Atmosphere with positivity, enthusiasm and praise.

Player Characteristics Un-coordinated and individually focused. Low spatial awareness. Extremely ball focused.

Struggle to play in a team, but will respond well to partner work. Respond well to individual guidance, you show they follow.

Low attention spans, so need constant changes in the same activity and trying new


Equipment Ladders, hurdles, bean bags, balloons, soft balls, first touch balls, bibs, hoops,

Try to have a ball for each player.


Recommended Session Structure: (1 hr)

  • Generic warm-up (8 mins)

Fun game to incorporate all (e.g. stuck in the mud, flush the toilet)

  • Stations Coaching (7 mins per station, 42 mins total)

6 stations with different fundamental at each one Progressions and regressions within each station

  • Unstructured play (10 mins)

Let the children discover themselves by using the equipment and playing in an unstructured way. Must be carefully supervised

Top Tips:

  • Coach: Player  Ratio       1: 5
  • Being organized and having planned ahead is key
  • Ideally a coach per station and rotate the children around but if you don’t have enough Coaches

just go from station to station with the children split between coaches

Sample drills and activities can be got at following websites/pages:


Nursery Programme Section