“Kids These Days” – Are the Ones You’re Coaching

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If you’ve found it challenging to coach this generation, these tips might be just in time!

Discover how understanding kids these days will make coaching them so much easier.

Times have changed and relating to your players gets tougher and tougher. But understanding is the best way to bridge any generation gap you might have. Sure, things are different now than in your day, but every generation has uttered that, and besides, your job is to coach today’s generation, not judge them.

The best way to do that is to look at these kids with curious eyes. How can you relate what you know to what they need? How can you find a way to connect their world to yours, and how can you tap into their desire to improve with your desire to help them?

Simple answer – understanding. Knowing a little bit more about “kids these days” will make it easier for you to understand them better.

So, with the help of Tim Elmore, one of the nation’s foremost leaders in uncovering what makes this generation tick, let’s look at some of the keys to better understanding “kids these days”*:

  • They were born AFTER the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. As a result, they have known only a world with:
    • Terrorism and war
    • Racial unrest
    • Economic recession
    • School shootings
    • (These are all things that frighten kids these days and make it hard for them to trust)
  • Today’s adolescent’s attention span is 6 seconds (down from 12 seconds in 2000).
  • They’ll learn more from a portable device than from a classroom (change your coaching to involve more portable devices to “show” vs just your mouth to “tell”).
  • They use a phone instead of a wristwatch, camera, flashlight, wall calendar or board game (chances are you’re doing the same thing as well).
  • They are socially connected at all times, but often connected in isolation (so they will feel awkward in socially connected settings like a team setting. They will often be physically present without being brave enough to be emotionally present).
  • They’re also the first generation to whom adults cannot say: “I know exactly what you’re going through” (this definitely makes it hard for us to relate to them…great! Ask them to teach you some things.).
  • They live in a world of extreme exaggerations, and will do anything for attention. Their new currencies are Likes, Shares, Views, and Followers. It’s about their personal platform (help them put their own desires on this list by asking them to consider if they’d “like” the effort they just gave and also help them distinguish effort from result).
  • And finally, the world they’ve grown up in can be at odds with the dedication and discipline needed for softball success:
    • Their world is full of Speed…..so they assume Slow is Bad.
    • Their world is full of Convenience…so they assume that Hard is Bad.
    • Their world is full of Entertainment…so they assume that Boring is Bad.
    • Their world is full of Nurture (from their parents)…so Risk is Bad.
    • Their world is full of Entitlement…so Work is Bad.

Judging their world is natural, but not helpful. Instead, as coaches, our job is to teach our players, which requires us to understand them and connect with them.

Nobody gets up in the morning to suck, so know that no matter how cool or distant your players might appear, they desperately want to improve. Help them by doing your best to connect with them, to understand them, and finally – to talk to them in their language by using your phone or iPad to show what you mean instead of talking so much.

For more help with coaching kids these days, check out one of our best-selling books, Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry: Tips on Coaching Female Athletes.

*(Note – the above information was taken from Tim’s new eBook, The New School Coach, by Dr. Tim Elmore. This eBook is free from www.growingleaders.com )

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