It is natural for young people in any sport to idolise the players that play at the top of their game and want to mimic their behaviours - whether it be how they take frees or how they celebrate when they score. In hurling, one way young players like to imitate their idols is by using the same style of hurley as them, but is this always appropriate?
The change in hurley trends means that the big bás style of hurley is increasingly in demand amongst young players, which can add considerable weight to the head of smaller hurleys. An unbalanced or top heavy hurley will make it more difficult for younger players to manoeuvre the hurley and, therefore, will hinder the advancement of fundamental skills at a key stage in a player’s development. So ironically, in trying to better themselves by mimicking their heroes, young players may in fact be doing themselves a disservice in their path to becoming as skillful as they can potentially be.
A truly great piece of skill, that every young player has tried to emulate since the summer of 2017!
Over the past number of year's the GAA have very proactively rolled out its 'Play & Stay with the GAA' initiative. The emphasis is on the social benefits of playing sport at a young age, helping children develop a healthy attitude towards exercise, social inclusion and general enjoyment of sport. We at Torpey see the development of this strategy as key to helping today's modern society become more active. An important element to this strategy is the GAA's Total Playing Performance Model where Technical Proficiency is one of four key areas of development for every young player. Furthermore, the playing participation figures are currently positive but at Torpey we are always trying to understand if we can help sustain and increase these figures.
Torpey noticed the trend in the demand for bigger bás hurleys a couple of years ago and questioned if this was the best way forward for young player development or if it was negatively impacting technical proficiency (skill development). Trends can be hard to reverse, so rather than prevent younger players from having the style of hurley they want we carried out 2 years of research and development to create a lightweight wooden hurley, SkillSTIK™.
With the SkillSTIK™ young players can now have the large head for control and striking, but in a more controllable form and with the same feel as a traditional hurley. The SkillSTIK™ is 40% lighter than existing hurleys and, so it helps young players to develop their basic skills with an easier to manouevre hurley. Torpey feel that the SkillSTIK™ is ideal to meet the unique needs of 5-10 year old players, and is most suitable with the use of Quick Touch and Smart Touch sliotars which this age group tend to use.
The Torpey ethos of Growing the Game, which aims to increase participation in hurling and camogie amongst young people by making the sport more accessible, is at the centre of our recent SkillSTIK™ innovation. We believe that by removing the barriers to participation for young players that are trying the sport for first time or have recently taken up the sport is integral to long-term participation and player progression.