Training Breaks that Seal Gaps

Brain science shows that "chunking up" your training with breaks boosts learning and recall. This is true of classroom and tactical training. What kinds of breaks? Read on.


  • Happy Valentine's Day, honey.
  • Did you lose these?
  • Handcuffs, anyone?
  • Sorry Sarge, I'm allergic to metal.

You can find free cartoons, or photographic images, on nearly any subject on the internet. (101 Games for Trainers)

Paddle ball

Remember the wooden paddles with a ball attached to them by a rubber string? You can still get them. If you're in a hurry, I've seen them at Walmart in the party favor section. The Next Tag web link below is cheaper. You can buy a pack of 18 for $7.99.

When you want a break or review, ask for any number of volunteers you wish to come forward. Hand each of them a paddle ball and instruct them, in turn, to review one (or more points) made in class while keeping the ball in motion. Most will try to bounce the ball against the paddle. This is NOT easy. Someone will eventually realize the instruction was simply to keep the ball moving and soon volunteers will be swinging the ball like a pendulum or wrapping it around the paddle.

After the review, you make the point that we often make a task tougher than it needs to be and if we keep our minds open simpler solutions may appear. (101 Games for Trainers)

Think outside the box.

Brain teasers make good breaks and get learners thinking outside the box. You can give prizes to whoever solves them first. I like the walking brains at Kipp Toys - 85¢ each. (Web link below).

You can also reward learners with more teasers - like the assorted puzzle balls below from Kipp Toys - 38¢ each. (Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Kipp Toys. They just have lots of fun, cheap stuff.)

Here's just a sampling:

  • Make one word from "nerdoow." Solution - "one word."
  • Add one line to l 0 l 0 l 0 to make "950." Solution - cross second "l" at top to make l0 T0 l0, which is 9:50.
  • O-K. Have everyone in the group face forward and not look at each other. Tell them to make the O-K sign with their finger and thumb and put it up in front of their forehead. Then tell them to each poke their head through the sign. See how long it takes each person to bring their other hand up and put a finger through the sign to poke their forehead.

There are tons more. Just google "brain teasers" or go to the web links below.

Brilliant Brainstorming. Form small groups. Ask them to pick a word relating to the course content. Then give each group 3 minutes to form sentences from the letters in the word. Sentences must be grammatical but don't have to make sense. For example, a sentence from the word hazmat might be:

Happy Anteaters Zealously Mate At Teatime.

There are always laughs with this break. The team that forms the most sentences is awarded a prize. Sentences that also incorporate course content can be awarded extra points. (101 More Games for Trainers)

Optical illusions.

Display a series of optical illusions, one at a time. Ask the group to discuss what they think they see before moving on to the next one. Don't offer any explanations until you've shown the entire set. (You can also just show one at each break.) You can then make the learning point that we often jump to quick conclusions about (fill in your topic) or make judgments about (fill in your topic) based on initial impressions and based on our own subjective point of view and there's usually another view.

There are lots of free optical illusions on the internet. (Web link below)

Here are just two.

Double Picture. Look carefully at the third picture shown top right; what do you see? After you make your decision, scroll down for an explanation.

You saw a couple in an intimate love position, right? Interestingly, research has shown that young children cannot identify the intimate couple because they no such frame of reference. What they will see, however, are nine (small & black) dolphins in the picture! Yet another learning point about perspective, our views are shaped by our experiences, opening our minds to other possibilities, etc. Here's help: look at the space between her right arm and her head, the tail is on her neck, follow it up. Look at her left hip, follow the shaded part down, it's another one, and on his shoulder...

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