Coaching Generation “Why?”
Posted by Kurt Earl in Public
What generation are you from? You know what I mean. Are you a Gen Xer? Are you an old Millennial, like me? Maybe you’ve been coaching for a few decades and you’re a Baby Boomer.
Naming generations help us to understand each other better. While prone to unfair stereotypes and bias, each generation name teaches us something unique and special about the people who make up the generation.
Virtually everyone playing youth, junior high, high school, and college football today is part of Generation Z. I have no idea what “Z” means, so I made up a more useful name for Generation Z. I call them “Generation Why?”
Because they always ask “Why?” Not only do they always ask why, but most of them, in most situations, aren’t too inclined to do much of anything until they know exactly why they are doing it and they have decided that doing it is worthy of their time.
This characteristic is both frustrating and worth commending. It’s frustrating because even after you have established a great deal of trust with your players they still refuse to do much of anything if you haven’t clearly articulated why they should do it. They need to be constantly reminded of the why behind every aspect of the football program. Not only that, but many of them aren’t going to remember the why or understand the why until you’ve clearly articulated it multiple times and in multiple ways. Doing so takes a lot of time and energy.
When you were playing, how often did you do something with no questions asked merely because Coach said to do it? Constantly, right? Generation Why? isn’t wired that way. They essentially demand that the why behind everything is constantly being explained to them. You can resist that reality or embrace it? It’s your choice.
As frustrating as Generation Why? can be, they’re also to be commended. Thinking this way means that Generation Why? will choose their actions intentionally. As their perspective on life and motivations mature they’re going to be purposeful people who carefully plot out their path and follow a plan. Doesn’t that sound like the type of person that would make a great football player and teammates?
Our teams are full of players who are just waiting to work hard for a coach who will take the time to constantly and clearly articulate the why behind the everything the program does. But it’s important to recognize that merely teaching the why isn’t enough for this generation of young people. They’re also craving another characteristic from their coaches. Generation Why? demands that their coaches love them and care about them as people, not merely players.
There’s an old cliche ringing more true every minute: They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
This has never been more true about high school football players than it is today. Today’s athletes are more relational than ever before. As a result, they value advice and instruction from someone they know well far more than they do from someone who knows well. In other words, they don’t care if you’re an expert if they don’t know you care about them.
But this isn’t news to you. As a football coach you’re experiencing this reality everyday. You know from experience that inspiring and motivating your players is a completely different ball game than it was when you were a player. This is true if you’re a seasoned coach with decades of experience or a young gun just getting started. Things have changed rapidly.
These rapid changes can be summarized in two words: relationships and purpose. Study after study has shown that today’s young people long for deep relationships and deep purpose in all that they do, especially something that demands as much commitment to the team as the game of football. The bottom line is that if your football program doesn’t offer the opportunity to forge deep relationships and a sense of deep purpose your football team won’t attract today’s athletes.
What you need is a system for building a culture founded on relationships and purpose. You need a system that will help your program develop not just young men who are great football players, but young men who are great members of your school’s community.
Cultures founded on relationships and purpose that develop young men who are great football players and great members of your school’s community use a simple 1-2-3 process for communicating. In everything that you do you must always communicate to your players (1) The Why, (2) The What, and (3) The How. You must teach you players, your staff, your parents, your administration, and yourself to use The Why, The What, and The How as the lens through which you observe all things pertaining to the building of your football program.
When your players and coaches understand The Why, The What, and The How that motivates every aspect of your football program you will free your players and coaches from the chains of selfish motivators and unleash their potential as they serve the team with their unique gifts and abilities. Players and coaches who don’t understand your Why, or your What, or your How will always be motivated by fear, shame, and pride. When your program lacks purpose and deep relationships your players and coaches will lack loyalty and industriousness and your parents and fans will follow suit.
Once players and coaches begin to understand your Why, What, and How, however, they are free to be motivated by love for self, love for the game, love for teammates, and ultimately a love for the team.
The Culture Coordinator system for building your culture will show you how to create a Why, What, and How that is unique to your program. The system also includes an assessment that allows you, as the head coach, to know exactly what is currently motivating your players and coaches and provides action steps for helping them move towards being motivated by a love for the team.
If you’re interested in the Culture Coordinator Motivation Assessment click here to learn more.
Ready to join the movement of Culture Coordinators from around the country? Click here to learn about the benefits of becoming a member of the Culture Coordinator community.