What to do when … Boys don’t listen when games are being explained

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.


Trying to tell a mob of jabbering boys how to play a game can be frustrating . You probably have been tempted to forget the game altogether and do something else. Boys could be restless for several reasons:

  • They become bored if the explanation is too long or detailed
  • They are concerned about whose team they will be on
  • They are anxious to get on with the physical activity
  • They already know how to play the game

There are a number of things a leader can do:

  1. While group is in formation, announce the first game to be played and the purpose of the game (e.g. to get ball through two chairs scores a point; team with most points wins). Keep the instructions short and simple. Boys can pick up the details as they actually play the game.
  1. Have all game equipment ready to be used. One leader can assist the game leader in this way. Set up goals and boundaries before the games begin.
  1. Avoid games with too many rules. Review complicated games with ranger or noncoms ahead of time.
  1. Use “trial runs” as a way to acquaint boys with the rules of the game rather than long explanations.
  1. Normally, it is best to use the same teams for all games in one meeting. When picking teams, counting off is probably the best method. Battalion boys may line up tallest to shortest; with Stockade, that usually does not make much difference (larger boys are not always the most athletic). Adjustments may be necessary after the teams are picked, but act carefully so that a boy’s self-esteem is not injured.
  1. When. using more than one game, move from one ~ame to the next quickly. End a game while boys are still enjoying it (so they will have good memories if it).
  1. If boys are talking when rules are being explained, stop talking and wait for silence. Raised hands can be used to indicate when one is silent (wait until all hands are raised). Avoid trying to shout over the group. Boys who persist in talking should be made to sit out the game, preferably in another room . Allow him the chance to improve with the next game.
  1. Ask fellow leaders to help control the group. If necessary, describe games to them ahead of time.


This series was adapted from a resource that has been used by Brigade leaders for decades.

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.


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