Young Boys and Attention Span

I have the luxury of coaching fourteen young boys between the ages of ten and eleven. I say luxury as that is exactly what it is. I get to be with them and their young minds for three hours a week and a couple of hours on a weekend and maybe more if we have two games. Then, when the time is up and I have wound them up sufficiently, I send them home and pass all of this pent-up energy on to the Parents.

What makes my life interesting, is to listen to them chatter amongst themselves and some of the strange things they say and talk about. They very rarely hold serious conversations with each other as I suppose that is not cool. Rather, they goof around, poking and trying to find ways to annoy each other enough to get some sort of reaction.

And yet, they will hold a serious one on one conversation with me, that is, if I can get their attention long enough especially if it is about something they want to share that happened at school or they watched on T.V. Sometimes, they will even talk about their team mates and it’s quite surprising the opinions they have. It’s times like these that makes coaching such a worthwhile job. It makes up for the moments of frustration when I send them running because one of them was not paying attention when I was talking, or their apparent selective forgetfulness when one or more of them messes up on one of the drills.

Games are the worst. They all arrive early enough to shoot on goal. I swear that most of them didn’t come for the game but to shoot on goal. Go figure. It would be great if they were methodical about it but no, they shoot when someone is in the way or two or more will shoot at the same time. To make matters worse, they are not trying to improve their kicking and they never analyze why this kick was better than that one but instead just blast away. Then to make things even more exciting (for them) two or three or maybe even four of them will all play in-goal at the same time just adding to the general madness. I’m surprised that more kids are not hurt during this melee.

What they don’t know is that this is all a part of the coach’s secret plan to get them “kicked out” at which point, they might pay attention and focus on the upcoming game  or training session. With girls, you let them have a ten minutes chat session. With young boys, shoot on goal.

It is sometimes hard for adults to remember that we are dealing with ten and eleven year old minds. Specific concentration is something they have not yet learned. That coupled with a ten minute attention span all adds up to messing up on the field. That is probably one of the reasons they all go trucking after the ball regardless of all of the drills and explanations given to them. They figure, if they are not running and chasing, they are not playing and then it is time to revert back to the switched off mode until the ball comes close enough to turn that switch and then off they go again, hunting in packs.

One thing they have learned or maybe they all suffer from it is a disease called selective hearing. I swear that a kid can be ten yards away and can’t hear me and another can be the other side of the field and acknowledges he has heard. It is very contagious and is passed from one to other as the game goes on. They all hear “Go get Goodies”” with no problem at all after the game.

I have coached a lot of kids over the years and none of this is new. They all have suffered from it with the only difference being that todays kids are really high-tech and their collective minds are much further advanced than say kids of twenty years ago. Don’t know if that’s good or bad as the game hasn’t changed very much. Come to that neither have the kids, God love them…

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