Coaching a 'new' Generation
Updated: Sep 18
Generation Z, The 'i' Generation, The entitled generation... the list goes on. Most commonly known as Generation Z, those born between the late 1990s and 2015 are like any generation, unique in how they see and interact with the world. Born in 1997 myself, somewhat caught in the gap between being a Millennial and being Generation Z I have been interested in seeing coaches much older and more experienced that myself get to grips with Generation Z. Reading and watching the vast resource bank out there on how to coach Generation Z to me there are some key myths to be busted and lessons to be learnt. In part this blog we bust 3 myths about Gen Z.
MYTH #1 - Generation Z have a much lower attention span than their predecessors.
I think this sweeping statement does them a great dis-service. Think about how they can sit in front of a screen watching a box set for hours on end. It is not that they have a lower attention span than others, it is that they have hypersensitive filters. They can determine whether what they are reading, watching, listening to etc is relevant in under 8 seconds. Like you might do when reading the blurb of a book. Only that they do this with everything, all the time. Partly due to the constant flow of information they are receiving, it is inefficient to spend time on something that is irrelevant. How can coaches overcome this challenge? It really is quite simple. Be engaging, get to the point quickly and make it important to them!
MYTH #2 - Generation Z don't care for the detail.
Again, a frustrating injustice to talk about Generation Z in this way. Detail is one thing that Generation Z are obsessed with. Instagram filters, creating their own brand all involves detail. Most importantly though, they care about the 'why' behind what they do. From my experience coaching Generation Z, they want to know why what they doing is going to help them. It goes back to the hyper-sensitive filter they have. "Why is this going to be relevant to me". If they don't know why, then they will lose interest. Who can blame them! This is where coaching styles need to change. In years gone by people were content with being told what to do merely because the person telling them to do it must be qualified. As coaches of Generation Z we need to explain the why behind what we are doing, and most importantly in order to bypass their hyper-sensitive filter, we need to understand why they do the sport!
MYTH #3 - Generation Z are Impatient and Entitled
When busting this myth, it is important to think about the environment they have grown up in. They have the world at their fingertips. They have done since they first held a smart phone or a tablet. Anything they want to know, they can find it on google in under a second from pressing the search button. Google processes an average of 70,000 searches a second with the average person searching between 4 and 5 times a day. Imagine never having to wait for information, then suddenly being asked to wait for something. You would be a little impatient, no? Add to this, being given everything you could ever want by your parents, yeah you would naturally believe that you just get things. Being impatient and entitled is not a choice they have made, but something grown within them by older generations. Our job as coaches is to help them understand that in sport, they can't always have what they want when they want. The key to this... explaining why!
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought when working with Gen Z.