Many players suffer from a poor ability to concentrate. Concentration is quite a broad term. It is obviously tied to the concept of focus. I’ve done a number of posts about focus and what causes players to be distracted away from the thoughts and activities that truly matter on the field. The point of this post is to provide players and coaches with an activity that can actually do something to help players get better in the area of concentration. Telling a kid he needs to concentrate more may be obvious but it does nothing to explain what specifically he should be focusing on, for how long, or even how to actually do it better. This activity can help.
It’s called a Concentration Grid. The grids are a series of scrambled numbers from 00-99 (some are 1-100) on a page. To see/print examples, just search in Google Images for “Concentration Grids.” The person doing the activity gets a designated time to X-out the numbers starting at number 01. Basically, when the instructor says “Go,” the person turns the page over, searches for 01 and puts an X over it. Then he searches for 02 and puts an X over that one. The process continues onward until the time expires. How many numbers they got to is recorded (say, 11 for example). After a break, the person tries again by starting with the next number (12) and continues like before until time expires. How many they found in order in that time period is again recorded. To benefit baseball players, a good strategy to use is to keep changing the time to find the numbers. This is valuable because there are times in baseball where longer periods of concentration are necessary such as over the course of an entire game. However, there are times when shorter, more intense periods of concentration are needed such as when a batter tries to pick up the ball out of the pitcher’s hand and decide to swing or not. The window of concentration is very tiny for that task. 5 seconds, 15 seconds, 30 seconds, and a minute could all be used at various stages of the activity to force the person to concentrate over different time periods which mimics what they would have to do during game conditions.
The purpose of this activity is to give the person doing it some practice in concentrating on a single task. The more distractions, either external or internal, the harder it will be to find the next number and the longer it will take. Grid exercises simply provide a way for people to practice blocking out everything in order to focus and concentrate. Usually the more someone does a grid, the better they get.
To benefit the most, multiple grids are necessary. If the same one is used, people will begin to remember where the numbers were which obviously would alter their scores. The link above provides three different grids for this purpose. I’m sure others can be found online as well.
In school, students with concentration issues commonly get accommodations like increased time to get work done or take tests. Of course, there are no accommodations for these kids when it comes to baseball or any other sport. They either learn to concentrate better on what they need to or their playing career will be very short.
Concentration grids are a good way to help these kids and others to improve and hopefully keep them playing longer with more success.