EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

4 tips to keep your players’ attention in pre-season

Even the most patient children have a limited attention span especially when they have just come back to training after the summer break, and this at some point is bound to impact on your sessions, unless of course you can find ways to improve your players’ concentration, and with it, retention of information.

Player attention span

Here are four brilliant methods that should help:

CHUNKING

Break your training sessions into short chunks and don’t put too much information into each one. I saw this done really well a few weeks ago when a coach was introducing a rapid pass and move technique. He demonstrated it and asked the players when they might use it in a game. They then spent a few minutes practising in threes. The coach then mixed pass and move exercises with more physical pressing and shielding techniques. Because they were learning in chunks and assembling those like building blocks, you could see that the players were regarding each development as something new, whereas their attention would have waned quickly if the whole exercise had been introduced in one go.

REVISIT TO REINFORCE

Keep revisiting skills and techniques you have taught your players. A newly taught skill should be revisited over and over again until players are proficient. This might mean you do ‘chunked’practices for the same skill over the course of six or seven weeks, but press home the repetition and it will become second nature to them.

ACTIVE LEARNING

Children learn by doing so this needs to be the main focus of your training. Limit explanations and demonstrations and get to the activity. Once players are active stop every two or three minutes and give them another small bit of information then get them active again. Coaches love the tactical, logical, intuitive part of the game and can talk about it at length, but kids just want to get out there and get on with it.

HUNGER

Always leave players wanting more. Don’t work on a skill so much that players become bored as this will only lead to bad habits developing. Short, sharp focused bursts of activity will ensure your players are still hungry to learn when you revisit the skill another time.

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