Coaching Younger Generations

Coaching is more than science. It is an art. You can have all the knowledge in the world and yet fail if you don’t adjust your methods to the subjects you are coaching. You can’t possibly teach a butterfly to swim, but you can always teach it to fly higher. Nobody argues with the fact that most coaches have a deep knowledge of their sport, but it’s a long way from mastering a sport to delivering this knowledge to others. The world is in continuous evolution, and our generations evolve with it. Let’s take a look at the different generations we can find in the gyms.

The entire business world has become aware of the fact that different generations have different styles, thus learning how to address their needs accordingly. There’s no reason for the sports world not to follow this approach. Coaches and managers, as well as parents, have to consider a lot more than only the age of their children when choosing the training approach. They also need to take into consideration the generation their kids belong to.

Children of today are structurally different than children of 10-15 years ago. The rules you’ve grown up with don’t apply anymore, and the modern society shapes individuals of a certain generation in a specific way, thus influencing the way they think and act in various situations. All you can do is try to understand them and deliver them the messages they expect and react well to.

Also known as the Digital Natives or the Selfie Generation, these are people born after the year 2000. They have been born and have grown in a world that’s totally different than the one I’ve grown up in. The amazing progress of technology over the past 15 to 20 years changed our world almost completely, making people re-evaluate their values and beliefs, as well as the way they react to various life events.

Digital Natives are present in large numbers in all youth sports of our modern society. Aged up to 15, they can’t possibly imagine our world without computers, smartphones, and the Internet. They have been brought up in a society full of insecurity, menaced by wars and affected by deep economical and financial crises.

Under these circumstances, it is easy to understand their values and beliefs are fundamentally different than the values and beliefs of older generations. Although coaching these young people may seem like an impossible task, those who get it right are going to enjoy it a lot, as this generation is way more down to earth than older ones.

What makes them so special?

If you understand what makes these young folks tick, you are going to find the way straight to their mind and to their heart. They all share some common traits that influence their character and their behavior in any industry or life path, be it sport, training or business.

They are the only generation that is 100% digital native. They don’t know the world without technology.

Digital Natives need to communicate and to be in contact with their peers at all times. They need fast and constant feedback, and they don’t know how to function without it. Although they spend a lot of time communicating via digital means, they are comfortable with meeting people face-to-face. They wouldn’t use too much text messaging, as they find video chats much better.

These people have a great dose of distrust, and this is understandable, as they’ve grown up in an unstable world. They are less naive about how stuff works than their predecessors. People from these generations care very much about their privacy. If they feel you as an intruder, you aren’t going to make them cooperate.

Most of them believe sport is essential for a healthy development and lifestyle, more than 90% of them being in favor of doing more sports in schools. Nonetheless, since they see sport as a health tool rather than anything else, the biggest question for a coach is how to approach these individuals to train them for performance. A good coach studies all these particularities of Digital Natives and understands that technology and good communication are key to success.

There are main qualities a coach should have to be effective in training players from young generations.

An effective coach should refrain from yelling. Keeping calm in all situations, being caring and encouraging and coming across as a knowledgeable professional helps a coach be highly regarded and followed by most trainees.

These features emphasize once more the need for honest feedback, sincerity, and stability they crave for. Moreover, they want to be involved in the decision-making process, even when they are simple members of the team and not decision-making factors.

It’s clear the age of authoritarian coaches has come to an end. The younger generations have something to say, and only those who listen to these people are going to be able to communicate with them in an effective manner.

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