This problem plagues many youth football coaches and can be the difference between a successful season and a very poor one.
Player inattentiveness is a problem that is best resolved prior to the very first football practice. We have a mandatory team and parents meeting just 30 minutes prior to the first football practice. We hash out what our expectations are for the program. One thing we do not waiver from is listening. We let everyone know that to play the game of youth football safely and properly requires the players to listen to the coaches.
We have other simple but effective tricks to make sure the kids pay attention:
We will not tolerate kids not listening or paying attention, we are not babysitters. We let the parents and football players know that if they are talking instead of listening that they will be told to run as punishment, if the problem persists and becomes a disruption it is grounds for suspension. We let them know that we do not negotiate this and it is never a problem after the first week. If we do see a player that has this problem and by not listening or talking has put himself or another player in an unsafe situation, we will raise our voices.
We will never raise our voices for a mistake a player makes catching the ball, fumbling or any physical mistake, but we will if we see a lack of sportsmanship, hustle or listening. We let everyone know ahead of time this will happen and if they have a problem with it, we ask them to please move on to another team. I have given that talk in front of at least 1500 parents and had just 1 leave. We include this in our player contract.
We also use the “ready focus” method. At any time if our players hear the word “ready” from a coach, they must ALL stop anything they are doing, be silent, yell the word �focus� and stare into the eyes of the coach that has said “ready”. If ANYONE is talking or for that matter moving or not looking directly into the eyes of the coach that said the word “ready”, the player will run.
We get this down in the first practice and do not waiver from it. If you require 100% compliance you will get it, if you let it slide, you lose total control. This one little trick has been a lifesaver for many teams. Just remember, what you tolerate you encourage.
We rarely have a single problem with this after week one.