Living in the current digital information age, kids are spending an exorbitant amount of time in front of ‘screens’ (cell phone, tablet, computer, tv). Attention span should be developed from an early age, so the first step to keeping your kids attention is to reach out to their parents. According to this GreatSchools.org article, parents reading to children aloud increases focus and attention span. This forces a child listen to just one voice, free from distractions, and create a picture in his or head mind of the story being told. Encourage parents to read aloud.
As a coach, it is beneficial to develop a strategy to harness and retain your players quick fleeting attention span.
Here’s how you do it:
- Enthusiasm is key to fun and upbeat practice time. If you want your kids engaged, it must start with you. If you and your coaching staff act like you want to be at practice, your kids will follow right along.
- Ask questions to your team. Keep them on their toes while learning and getting feedback from your squad.
- Keep your practices organized. Be efficient. No time wasters, keep it moving.
- Keep breaks short. Cutting your breaks in half- to rehydrate, catch your breath. Hot weather more breaks, same duration. 3-5 breaks.
- Good predetermined plan, make sure all coaches know their responsibilities. Ensure all coaches are focused, not fiddling around on their cell phones during practice time.
- Maximize on-field time from start to finish. If idling, then distracted behavior will be apparent.
- Keeping drills line short- never any lines in football. if 20 kids, create stations. When you stunt the flow, or stop coaching, then attention is lost.
- Coaches, be prepared. Get to practice early and set up your drill stations. Kids waiting for you to set up cones, is not good.
Once you lose the attention of children, it is hard to get them back. Involve your coaching staff and let them know what is expected of them. Once everyone is on board with the philosophy of an organized, fast-paced and fun practice, you will find your kids paying better attention to what’s being said to them.