My generation has been hit pretty hard by the younger generations. To the point where they have come up with the line, “Okay, Boomer”, which is shorthand for, “Shut up old fart you don’t get it!”
Now I understand that I am old and, even more, I understand that things are a whole lot different now than they used to be.
I recently wrote a blog about coaching millennials which has lead me to this opportunity to also write about coaching Generation Z. To poke a little fun I am going to call then Generation Zoomer, for this blog.
What do we know about Generation Z?
They have lived their whole life with technology. They are on a first-name basis with Alexa, Siri, Smartphones and WI-Fi. They are the kids born after, about 2005, so just about everyone we coach in 14U and younger. These experiences have created kids who are:
- Cynical. They ask a lot or questions.
2. Private. They value keeping the things they think are personal just that way.
3. Entrepreneurial. They are willing to venture out and try things.
4. Muti-tasking. They feel like if they don’t have several things going at once they are falling behind.
5. Aware. They feel like they know what is going on in their world.
6. Technology reliant. They ask Alexa, or Google to get their answers.
So how do we adapt as coaches to make coaching these kids productive? The list is pretty logical when you look at the characteristics that define this generation. Coaches need to:
1. Run fast paced practices with as much information as possible.
2. Allow them to use technology as a learning tool.
3. Have short and to-the-point meetings and explanations.
So a good Zoomer practice might look something like this:
A hitting station where a hitter takes 8 or 10 swings with a partner and then switches. After they complete the set, allow them to evaluate their performance on their phone with one of the thousands of apps that they are used to using every day. then repeat with a new drill.
This example meets their needs for a quick hitting experience tied to their reliance of technology, which will in turn keep them engaged.
Or, short team meetings to wrap up practice (2-3 minutes max). Sorry, but they stopped listening at 3 minutes. Point to measurable and quantifiable things that show progress was made. Again, tying in technology is a great tool here. Videos they can watch and examine are a better tool than stories or opinions.
You can teach an old dog new trick, as long as the old dog has a good teacher. There is no better teacher than trying to keep up with young people. We need to adapt or else.