Daily Archives: April 3, 2009

Excellent article on coaching today’s young athletes

Saw an excellent article this week on Jeff Janssen’s Championship Coach’s Network that talks about coaching the Milennial (kids born 1982 and later) athlete, and how it’s different than days gone by. One of the key things mentioned is that these kids have grown up in bubbles, being told they’re good and that there’s nothing they can’t do. The old “break ’em down” mentality doesn’t work with them. You will break their spirits and they will struggle to recover.

It certainly explains why coaches who may have been successful in days gone by are now struggling. If you don’t keep up with the world and understand your “market” you can quickly become out of touch with your athletes. At that point you think you’re coaching apples when you’re really coaching oranges.

Parent coaches get knocked a lot of times for the things they do, and rightfully so. But one advantage parent coaches do have (if they leverage it) is being more in touch with kids the age of their players. They’re around it all the time, and participate in the upbringing, so they may be more in tune with how those kids think. Coaches who haven’t had kids, or whose kids grew up a while back, may not understand that the generation has changed, and the Milennials have different expectations even than the Gen Xers.

Right now is a good time to take stock of your own understanding. Do you have a Facebook account? Have you ever played a video game? Do you still tape TV shows on a VCR instead of DVRing them? What’s on your iPod — if you even have one?

Everyone knows the same Xs and Os more or less. Most elite coaches will tell you succeeding is more about the relationships and the personal side. If you can’t relate to your players anymore, and in a way that fits them, you’d either better figure out how in a hurry or hang it up. They can play without you. You can’t coach without them. One big clue: the “command and direct” style doesn’t work anymore.

For more understanding of how the various generations operate and interrelate, you should read The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. It’s a tough read but well worth slogging through. Today’s youth is very much like the generation that won WWII — confident, optimistic, and with a sense of entitlement too. They don’t suffer fools lightly.

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