I hear it all over the world.
In every sport.
In every club.
Coaches asking, “How do I get this generation of athletes to work hard””
The Problem: Kids are Lazy?
The conversation usually starts like this.
“I think kids today are looking for the easy way. They don’t listen. They have short attention spans. They want it all and they want it now. They don’t want to work hard. They are not capable of achieving anything”.
All the above statements are, to some degree, true………except the last one: this generation is capable of greater things than we have ever dreamed possible.
The Reason: Times have Changed…..and for the better.
In the old days, coaches were the custodians of the knowledge of their sport: training, planning, preparation, competition, what to eat, when to stretch, what to do at the gym: everything.
Now, anyone can access anything anytime anywhere and for free. Kids (and their parents) can now access the same information that coaches can.
The traditional coach-driven, coach-centred learning method, i.e. coach tells – athletes do, is doomed to failure.
Successful coaches must create learning environments where athletes learn through problem solving, decision making, being engaged and excited by learning experiences and by collaborating with coaches and their team mates on making training stimulating, effective and efficient.
The Solution: Internet Coaching!
No – I don’t mean do your coaching over the Internet, I mean coach the way the Internet works or more importantly, coach the way that kids interact with and learn on the Internet.
Next time you get the opportunity, take a moment to watch some kids using the Internet.
They Google or Yahoo or MSN for the information they need. They read some text for 30-4o seconds, then they follow a link or two to some video, then come back to some text, then send the links to their friends and get their views, then go back to some video, back to text and so on.
They don’t learn from the Internet: they learn with it. They engage with it (and with their friends) to accelerate learning and their capacity to learn more and learn faster.
They learn differently and the way they learn is the greatest single challenge to traditional coaching philosophies that sport has faced in the past 20 years.
Example: Teaching Skills the old way and why it doesn’t work any more.
This is where this whole “kids are lazy” stuff comes in.
Coaches present their drills and skills practices in their tried and true way, i.e. coach driven multi- repetition format and after a few repetitions the kids seem to lose interest. Obviously they are “lazy”.
Think about that for a moment. Kids who spend their lives learning to learn fast and collecting information at an incredible rate are bored and lose interest when given 20 minutes of the same drill presented the same way over and over and over. And you think they are “lazy”!!!
Am I missing something?
So you have two choices: Pull down the internet, ban the world wide web and change the way kids learn back to the way they did in the 1950s or change the way you coach.
The Secret to Success with this Generation is….You and Your Coaching.
This generation is not lazy: they are learners – capable of learning more and learning faster than any previous generation.
This generation is not afraid of hard work: they are afraid of boredom.
This generation has a short attention span – true – but it is an advantage in learning faster.
You have, standing in front of you a group of athletes who are capable of learning more and in a shorter time than any group of athletes you have ever coached.
There’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with you.
This has nothing to do with finding an easy path, compromising on standards or “soft” coaching.
If anything, an environment which genuinely engages the hearts and minds of athletes is capable of working harder and at higher intensities than one which places more importance on “exhaustion” than engagement.
You just need to change the way you think about and deliver information, and if you can do that, nothing is impossible for this generation or any other.