Guest post today by Maia Fletcher.
Millennials got you surrounded? Yep, they’ve taken over the place. In fact, this year they’ll surpass the Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America. To connect with them we need to recognize, says guest blogger Maia Fletcher, that our athletes in their 20’s and 30’s occupy a unique position in history. As the first generation to grow up with the internet, they have been shaped by it. This makes them unique to coach. Here are 7 points to consider when coaching Millennial athletes.
Leverage their idealism
Millennials were raised during economic prosperity with bright hopes for the future. Unlike their predecessors Generation X, they tend towards idealism. This can be a positive trait when used to power efforts towards a clear common goal. However, lofty ambitions need to be backed up by action. Make sure that your players know how much work and discipline it will take to be successful.
Experiences are everything
It has been said that Millennials value experiences above all else. Structure your training programs to provide players with a varied and rewarding development plan. Give them constructive feedback and targets, instead of wearing them down with endless drills. They will thank you for it when they see how far they’ve come. That priceless feeling of achievement is an experience that they will keep working for.
Millennials are known for being more health-conscious than older generations. They dedicate time to their diets, self-care and wellness pursuits. Thanks to the internet, they are often knowledgeable about nutrition and Motivating them to apply this knowledge, however, might be another matter. Educate your players about how certain choices can affect performance, for better or worse. Consider that the precise timing of nutrition may be almost as important as what is actually consumed.
Millennials love authentic, personal narratives. Bring dimension to your coaching by incorporating personal stories to inspire and motivate them. Sharing stories is a great way to connect with people on new levels.
Tech is on your side
As the first generation to grow up using the internet, Millennials are at home with technology. The ubiquitous smartphone is an invaluable part of the modern coach’s kit bag. You can save heaps of time by organising all your team affairs and communication via an app. And with apps like Hudl, you can analyse the whole team’s performance and make annotations to share. Another popular gadget, fitness trackers, are a great way to monitor your players’ health and performance. With all of this data at our fingertips, we would be fools not to use it to our advantage.
Millennials are often characterised as sheltered from the harsh realities of life by their parents. This may be rooted in truth, but it seems unfair to blame them for their parents’ shortcomings. Having been raised to feel special, failure wasn’t in their vocabulary. Most people fear failure, but Millennials fear it to a paralysing degree. Teach your players that failure is how we grow. Avoiding failure is a sure way to avoid growth. And conversely, embracing failure is how we accelerate growth.
Second, only to the younger Generation Z, Millennials have some of the shortest attention spans of any adults living today. They are also some of the most stressed people around, facing pressures that previous generations could not have imagined. Be aware of the unique challenges faced by younger people and cultivate compassion.
Each successive generation is faced with unique conditions that influence how they interact with the world. The world of sports is no exception. Millennials might seem difficult to understand at times, but ultimately, they are people like anybody else. In spite of their challenges, Millennials show just as much athletic potential as previous generations.
Maia Fletcher is a Gisborne, New Zealand-based freelance writer who has written for various blogs and local sites that promote ingenuity and sustainable solutions, such as Sea Containers. To see more of Maia’s published work follow her Tumblr page @ MaiaFletcher.