One of the many questions coaches ask is “how can you help with players to maintain their focus in training”? It is important to remember that all children will cognitively and emotionally develop at different rates, combine the physical demands of the sports and pressure to perform, then its easy to see how youth players can be distracted. However, with the correct strategies and support you can enhance and facilitate growth.
Here are five strategies for coaches/ parents and instructors to use in their coaching sessions:-
1) Have a clear set of rules, defining which behaviours that are allowed and which are not, in the training environment. When giving directions or instructions ensure the individual with inattentive and active behaviours is positioned near to the coach
2) Have a session plan that incorporates a variety of activities, some serious but also some fun
3) Minimise the distractions in the training environment
4) Praising the individual’s efforts throughout the session will help to maintain focused and on task behaviour
5) Provide instructions that are simple, precise and clear
These may seem basic guidelines but they actually make a difference. Take point 5. What is a simple cue or instruction ? In my career working with youth players, coaches and parents it is clear that we can often forget that what may sound simple to me maybe very confusing to a someone else. The choice of language and selection of words can be the difference between gaining the youths attention or completely losing them in the session. So I challenge you to pay attention to one instruction every session and mentally check in with the instruction by asking yourself ” what evidence do I have that the instruction I just gave has been understood “.