Important Factors to Consider in Coaching Millennials

Important Factors to Consider in Coaching Millennials

Millennials are currently the largest generation on the planet with many still going through college and university. This also means that hockey coaches across the country will be currently training a considerable amount of Millennials. While every generation has the same desire to win, each one needs a slightly different approach to coaching. In this article we look at four important factors to keep in mind when coaching Millennials.

They need your understanding and time

Millennials want our understanding. “I hear that [Millennials are hard to coach] often and you hear it often from other coaches,” Joël Bouchard told the Athletique. Bouchard, head coach of the Montreal Canadiens’ minor league affiliate Laval Rocket, isn’t buying it. “When I hear someone say ‘These guys’ are spoiled,’ my response is ‘Not at all.’” Many Millennials are dedicated, and are willing to be coached. The key, according to the Bouchard, is to not have negative preconceptions about Millennials. Let them have a clean slate. Then give them lots of one-on-one time; otherwise “you won’t get the results” warns Bouchard. It may seem like additional work, but the trade-off — having coachable players willing to work hard on their game — will be worth it.

They respond to authenticity

In an article about reaching Millennials, leadership coach and Forbes Coaches Council member Tonyalynne Wildhaber notes that “authenticity is essential.” This point is relevant in all our dealings with Millennials, especially when coaching them. “Authenticity in purpose, actions, communication, and culture is essential to attract and retain the brilliance of this highly intuitive generation,” explains Wildhaber. This means coaches must “make challenge, contribution, and development regular components of their experience.” These challenges, though, must be communicated with transparency, and even vulnerability. We don’t need to put up a know-it-all, infallible front. Instead, coaches should show their players that they are just like them: flawed but willing to learn. In this way, we’ll connect better with the younger players and make them feel truly part of the team.

They are tech-savvy

Hockey coaches need to understand that Millennials tend to respond well to technology. According to researchers from West Texas A&M University, a digital learning culture has emerged from within this generation in which “technology and social media complement the learning process.” This trend is being seen across all levels of sports, especially in higher education. The Maryville University department of athletics has been using BlueFrame Technology to record and stream their sports on the Maryville Saints website since 2016. This allows players and coaches to get detailed feedback on every athletic contest. This follows the university’s drive to put technology at the forefront of its culture. And it has succeeded with Maryville University being named an Apple Distinguished School for 2018-2021. This is exactly the kind of innovative, tech-focused approach that appeals not only to young students, but also to new-generation players. As hockey coaches, we need to keep this in mind, and try to incorporate technology in our coaching, too. At present there is a range of apps and learning platforms such as CCM Skills, Coach Them, and Hockey Coach Vision that we can use to complement our teaching methods.

They crave affirmation

Millennials want to be praised. Legendary football coach Steve Spurrier, though, puts this into context: “I think what’s a little bit different now is that young players coming out of high school are told they’re so good…” says Spurrier. “I just always try to suggest to people, let the young man earn his way.” What this means is that instead of saying, “You’re the best…” or “You’re so great…” we should be specific when we offer praise. We can recognize our players’ positive attitude, their speed, or even their hustle, but we also need to point out their flaws as well. In doing so, we meet our players’ need for affirmation; at the same time we get to remind them that there is plenty of room for improvement.

As a final point it is important to make sure our players are playing as many games as possible. As noted in a previous post the ‘The GAME is the best TEACHER’ experience is the best way to learn. As coaches we can only do our best to guide and encourage them as they grow as a team. It is up to the players to continue to improve.


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Submitted by: Jett Bayntun