Coaching the Generation Z-athlete
This article is an extract from an article by Dr. Celesti Jansen van Rensburg which was written for the Free State Academy of Sport. Comments are added by Rudolph Cloete.
Coaches must know the athletes who they work with! The problem is that there is usually a big generation gap between coaches and the athletes. Therefore, the coach must take into consideration what makes his athletes tick!!
Different generation has different characteristics! Working with school athletes means that the coach is working with the so called Generation Z (born after 1996) – while he/she falls into the category of Generation X or Millennial!
Characteristics of Generation Z:
More practical – less theoretical
Show, don’t tell
Open-minded, but impatient
Creative and Innovative
Up for a challenge
Happiness is very important
Friends are very important
More face to face communication
More global in their thinking
Less structured education preferences – use alternative methods
More technology dependant
More parented – they have “helicopter parents”
More early starts – in work, sport, education
More disruptive – they are multitaskers
Very short attention span
Personal responsibility is high in some
Mentor seeking – don’t care for academics
Difference makers – 60% of them wants to make a difference
Some comments for coaches on these characteristics:
- Make use of technology: cellphone video clips and YouTube etc. Take video clips of their technique and show it to them when explaining something.
- Work individually with each athlete when explaining something important. Don’t explain important things to the whole group of athletes. They prefer that the coach pull them to the side when he/she wants to explain their mistakes.
- Keep explanations short. Get to the point.
- Don’t give 3 or 4 orders simultaneously.
- Set realistic goals – they strive on positive outcomes.
- Be creative in your training schedule – change and mix up the exercises on a regular basis. Don’t let them become bored.
- Don’t yell! The Generation Z-athlete will take this as a sigh that the coach is angry at him/her! They want the coach too consistently remain calm and in control of himself!
- Be aware of your gestures – the athlete may interpret it as a negative attitude towards them/him/her. They prefer a coach who shows positive interaction and feedback.
Coaches must change the way they think about and deliver the information he/she wants the athletes to hear.
Challenges coaches are facing:
- Athletes and parents who think they have a free pass to act disrespectfully because they are paying the coach.
- Athletes and parents who think they have a complete monopoly on coaches’ time (even personal time).
- Athletes and parents who want to blame a lack of progress on the coach, instead of looking at themselves or their potential.
- Parents who interfere with the coaches’ methods and/or program.
A negative experience with a coach is likely to have a greater impact on the coach-athlete relationship; hindering the positive youth sport experience