CONCENTRATION GRID APP FOR ATHLETES/COACHES
Concentration grids (sometimes called focus grids) have been used by coaches and athletes as a mental skills training exercise for decades.
A concentration grid is a grid of randomly arranged numbers – for example, a 10×10 grid of numbers 1 to 100 – typically presented on a paper sheet. The objective of the exercise is to find/mark in sequence each of the numbers in the grid. Performance is timed as the athlete is challenged to complete the grid as quickly as possible. Success calls for sustained focus and concentration from start to finish. Highly focused athletes can condition themselves to complete a concentration grid quickly and efficiently without losing focus. (Newcomers may struggle to maintain focus as they initially try the exercise.)
The concentration grid exercise has been a long-time favorite of baseball/softball coaches. For many elite baseball/softball teams, the concentration grid is an early season rite – handed out as paper and pen and timed by a coach with a stopwatch.
The new Concentration Grid app allows coaches and athletes to exercise their focus/concentration (and save paper) using their Apple or Android mobile devices (or any computer with internet access). With the Concentration Grid app the grid is presented on the touch screen of the mobile device (no paper, no pen). The user interface is simple and straightforward (intended to resemble a paper sheet). Progress through the grid during gameplay is clearly indicated (numbers turn from black to red as properly selected in sequence). The grid completion time is automatically recorded and displayed (no stopwatch).
The Concentration Grid app offers flexibility and convenience not possible with a grid on a traditional paper sheet. The app can generate concentration grids in a variety of sizes in a range of from 3 to 14 columns/rows; the app also provides a convenient “replay” feature. The nature of the gameplay challenge can be varied by changing the size and shape of the grid – by selecting the number of rows and columns in the grid. A grid with fewer rows/columns (for example, a 5×5 grid) will present a test of dexterity as well as focus (over a shorter period of time); a grid with more rows/columns (more numbers in total such as a 10×10 grid) will require more sustained attention/time to complete. (Grids may have from 3 to 14 rows/columns but do not have to be square in shape.)
The app was developed for use by coaches, athletes, students, teachers, parents, children, adults – by anyone who wants to use the exercise to challenge/practice their ability to focus.
The “standard” concentration grid is the 10×10 size, which a practiced grid master will be able to complete in about 3 minutes. (The 10×10 grid may take a newcomer nearly 10 minutes to complete.) Practiced grid masters might complete a 3×3 grid in about 3 seconds, a 5×5 grid in under 12 seconds, a 6×6 grid in about 25 seconds and a 7×7 grid in about 45 seconds. A 14×14 grid will likely take over 15 minutes to complete.
Sustained attention and effort/practice are rewarded with improved performance and reduced completion times.
Athletes can challenge themselves against target benchmarks, against their own personal best gridtimes or in head-to-head competition with other athletes/teammates.
The grid exercise can be practiced in complete quiet or with background noise/distractions intended to simulate “game day” conditions. The Concentration Grid app is perfect for use during travel/road trips (bus rides), during breaks at practices and as a pre-game ritual. The app can be used for training daily during the season or in the off season.
The app will display the completed grid with the grid time (elapsed time to complete the grid) and a GRID_ID data record on the mobile device screen at the end of gameplay; a screenshot with the completed grid and time/data from gameplay can be saved on the mobile device. The Concentration Grid app saves information from gameplay in a data/history file on the mobile device. The history/data can be used to track performance/improvement. With the share feature, athletes can share (personal best) gridtimes/screenshots with friends and teammates using email/text messaging and on social media (including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and at the Concentration Grid blog).
The Concentration Grid app is available (for 99 cents) on the Apple Store for iOS devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad, iPod) and at the Google Play store for Android devices. Free gameplay is available over the web at www.concentrationgrid.com.
Concentration Grid Target/Benchmark Times
3×3 grid < 5 seconds
4×4 grid < 10 seconds
5×5 grid < 15 seconds
6×6 grid < 30 seconds
7×7 grid < 1 minute
8×8 grid < 1.5 minutes
9×9 grid < 3 minutes
10×10 grid < 4 minutes
12×12 grid < 10 minutes
14×14 grid < 16 minutes
Example Uses of the Concentration Grid Exercise for Coaches
• Use grid exercise for helping and assessment of individual athletes with focus/concentration and dexterity
• Set aside practice or pre-season time for the team to complete the grid exercise
• Use the grid exercise as a gameday/pre-competition/locker room ritual (quiet time)
• Have athletes practice the grid exercise under distracting/simulated game conditions (e.g. noise, movement, lighting, etc.) – monitor the effect of distractions on performance
• Include the grid exercise as a mental skills training station during multi-station workouts
• Generate a random grid with the app and print/copy a screenshot on paper sheets to hand out with pen to the entire team – then time the team with a stopwatch as they complete the exercise (old school)
• Keep the team challenged/productively occupied with the grid app during travel/road trips (bus rides)
• Set up intra-squad/intra-school competitions with the grid exercise (e.g. individual tournaments, group/team tournaments, team competitions, etc.)
• Set up in-season and off-season competitions with the grid exercise for team/athletes (track best individual time, most improved, etc.)