Tag: coaching impact

Authentically Coaching Gen Z

Authentically Coaching Gen Z

Authentically Coaching Gen Z

According to Business Insider Generation Z is the youngest, largest, and most ethnically-diverse, generation in American history. They currently comprise 27% of the US population. Pew Research defines Gen Z as anyone born after 1997. Gen Z grew up with access to technology, the internet, and social media, which has earned them the stereotypes of tech-addicted, anti-social, or “social justice warriors.”

Just like every generation, we can’t summarize Gen Z with one label or box them into a summary that’s a few sentences long. In many ways, their preferences are as diverse as their racial makeup. This makes understanding how to rally this generation around a common cause challenging at times in particular team sports.

Who Is Gen-Z?

  • 88% of Gen-Z is optimistic about their personal future. – Vision Critical
  • 42% of Gen-Z says they are happy. – Vision Critical
  • Gen-Z is expected to make up 30% of the U.S. workforce by 2030. – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • The average Gen-Z attention span is eight seconds, four seconds less than Millennials. – Vision Critical

What Matters To Gen-Z?

Winning and feedback rank first on the list of 10 things a 16-year-old thinks everyone believes adults need to know about Generation Z. Josh Miller explains that the generation of elite sports with stereotypical bleacher parents yelling at refs in the stands carries their competitive nature to their debate and robotics competitions as well. Josh says:

“We carry the mindset that we are not necessarily at school just to learn but to get good grades that will secure our place in the best colleges. Generation Z has been thrown into perhaps the most competitive educational environment in history. Right or wrong, we sometimes view someone else’s success as our own failure or failure as our success.

We are also accustomed to getting immediate feedback. A great example is the online grading portals where we can get frequent updates on our academic performance. In the past, students sometimes had to wait weeks or longer to receive a test grade. Now, we get frustrated if we can’t access our scores within hours of finishing an exam—and sometimes our parents do, too.”

Why this Matters in Athletics:

The country watched Operation Varsity Blues play out with fake athletic scholarships funding collegiate programs and in some cases, college coaches savings accounts. The parents who yell at referees during elite sports are going to also yell at the refs during high school athletic events. Parents and athletes who express frustration, when feedback isn’t immediate, is something coaches will need to manage or consider how to preemptive strike.

Players who are used to feedback will expect that to continue, however that doesn’t mean that coaches should make up inaccurate details about an athlete’s performance to appease them. Coaches must figure out ways to accurately communicate where players stand performance-wise and how to motivate them to keep working. While Josh feels that Generation Z brings competition to every aspect of their lives, the reality is, they aren’t great at self-assessing their performance against other athletes. Very few hold the skill to accurately self-assess, it takes maturity and life experience to hone this discernment.

Here are a few other things that matter to Gen Z:

  • 66% of Gen-Z says that product quality matters most to them when making a purchase. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 65% of Gen-Z sees value in discounts and rewards programs. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 71% of Gen-Z wants to see more diversity in advertising. – Facebook IQ
  • 68% of Gen-Z expects brands to contribute to society. – Facebook IQ
  • 61% of Gen-Z is willing to pay more for products that are produced ethically and sustainably. – Facebook IQ
  • 77% of Gen-Z feels more positive about brands that promote gender equality on social media. – Facebook IQ

Gen Z is Cell Phone Addicted

  • 55% of Gen-Z uses their smartphones for five or more hours a day. – Pew Research Center
  • 26% of Gen-Z uses their smartphones for 10 or more hours a day. – Pew Research Center
  • 73% of Gen-Z uses internet-connected devices to communicate with friends and family, followed by entertainment (59%) and gaming (58%). – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 61% of Gen-Z has purchased a product via mobile in the last month. – Global Web Index

The Connected Generation

  • 74% of Gen-Z spends its free time online. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • 66% of Gen-Z uses more than one internet-connected device at a time. – IBM Institute for Business Value
  • Gen-Z streams an average of 23 hours of video each week. – Criteo

The Power Of Influencers

Generation Z wants to be influencers just as much as they are swayed by them. Josh Miller says, “Given how socially aware and concerned its members are, Generation Z seeks jobs that provide opportunities to contribute, create, lead and learn.” 

“One of the best ways I have seen leaders engage with Gen Z is to ask them how they would build a product or service or design a process,” Carney says. “Gen Z has some amazing abilities to bring together information, process it and take action. When we do allow them to share ideas, great things happen.”

Contribute, lead, take action; these are all excellent descriptors of team players. The types of athletes coaches can depend on to step up and rally teams. But the players most eager to lead aren’t always the ones who other players are willing to follow. Coaches may need to help players develop discernment around leadership communication.

Consider these stats about Gen Z and Influencers:

  • 4 in 10 Gen-Z-ers say they are easily swayed by other people’s opinions. – Global Web Index
  • 54% of Gen-Z says social media influences them more than any other marketing channel. – CMO Council
  • 52% of Gen-Z trusts social media influencers for product or brand advice. – McKinsey & Company
  • 82% of Gen-Z trusts their family and friends for advice on products more than any other source. – McKinsey & Company
  • One in three Gen-Z-ers follows brands on social media they are thinking of buying from. – Global Web Index
  • 76% of Gen-Z follows an influencer on social media. – Morning Consult
  • 45% of Gen-Z follows more than 10 social media influencers. – The Center for Generational Kinetics
  • 73% of Gen Z-ers use their internet-connected devices primarily for texting and chatting. (Source: IBM)
  • 71% of Gen Z-ers watch more than three hours of online videos every day.
  • 75% of Gen Z-ers don’t consider college the only path to a strong education.
  • 89% of them also say that they aren’t keen on taking on debt to cover the costs of higher education. (Source: Forbes)
  • 77% of Gen Z-ers say a company’s diversity would be a deciding factor when they look for jobs. (Source: Forbes)


Above all Generation Z values authenticity. Kudos says, “Gen Z workers value authenticity over aesthetics. They respect companies that steer clear of gimmicks. Instead, they appreciate those that provide unpretentious and thoughtfully designed physical spaces.”

Authenticity applies to the products they buy and the people they listen to for advice. The best way to authentically coach Generation Z is by striving for authenticity.

How does this translate onto the athletic field? Coaches must have a consistent message and be willing to practice what they preach. For example, if a coach insists the team shouldn’t swear then the coach shouldn’t use any swear words. If the coach demands players are on time for practice and games then they should also be on time.

These small examples are just two of thousands of ways that coaches can portray authenticity.

5 Indications Your Man is Born to Coach

5 Indications Your Man is Born to Coach

5 indications your man is born to coach

I think that one of the most surprising things about coaching people learn is that it takes a lot more than a love for the sport to have a successful career as a coach. It’s obvious from assumptions that coaches only work one day a week or a few weeks a year that those who are unfamiliar with athletics don’t understand a coach’s job description. But former athletes are also often shocked to learn all that goes on behind the scenes to prepare for practice and games.

Most coaches spend 80% of their time doing things other than actually coaching. They are watching film, practice planning, in the weight room, tutoring, doing grade checks, dealing with behavior issues, fundraising, teaching, taking care of game day preparations such as meals or travel arrangements, or washing jerseys and repairing equipment.

Still, those that have long coaching careers are usually cut from a similar cloth. There are a few characteristics that stand out as indications your man is born to coach.

Here are 5 Indications Your Man is Born to Coach

They Love the Grind

This may not be a phrase you are familiar with, but if you’ve been around coaches long enough you will understand what I mean. Even though it’s the middle of July, 100 degrees and 100% humidity, when it’s time to coach your man is up and out the door.

More than that, they are out there in the rain, snow, and freezing weather too because they understand that practice is a necessity. Coaches who are in the mix with their players sweating it out on the field and in the weight room are coaches who love the grind and born to coach.

They are Humble

The best coaches are constantly learning and growing. They are reviewing film and talking to other coaches to see if there are better ways to coach on a technical level amongst many other things.

The Washington Post summarizes humility in leadership well: “True humility, scientists have learned, is when someone has an accurate assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the larger whole.”

If someone isn’t willing to consider they may have weaknesses how can they better themselves? If they can’t improve themselves, how can their teams improve? Humility is key.

More Reading: Check out this article 10 Traits of Humble Leaders

They Understand it’s More than a Game

Billy Graham is often quoted as saying “One coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime.” The instinct is to consider the positive impact that a coach makes, but it’s important to remember this goes both ways.

Coaches who shame athletes, only value their on-field success and care little about the character of the team also impact people. But are those the people you want influencing the next generation?

A key indication that your man is born to coach is that they have vision for how to use athletics to develop character in the players they coach. They understand that there are opportunities to teach discipline, finishing what you start, committing even when things are hard, teamwork, healthy communication, and leadership principles in addition to X’s and O’s and they look for ways to make an impact in a positive way in their athlete’s lives.

They Value their Staff and Volunteers

Rarely does a coach work alone. Whether they are partnering with boosters, athletic trainers, administrators or other coaches, coaches who are born to coach love to be part of a team.

Athletes will note how a coach treats those he works with, as will co-workers. Of course, the golden rule is a great one to live by, but it goes further in coaching. When a coach values those around him he is investing in his future career potential as well.

They Can’t See Themselves Doing Anything Else

On paper, coaching is a ridiculous career choice. The hourly commitment breakdown for 99% of coaches is $1 or less earned per hour. The lack of gratitude, the physical exhaustion, the time away from family. And that doesn’t even take into account that coaches are fired with minimal notice.

“Anonymous” Monday morning quarterbacks online, waking up to For Sale signs helpfully placed in your front yard for you, and strangers informing your children that their father is horrible at his job are all reasons to avoid coaching at all cost and yet, thousands of men willingly subject themselves to this craziness for one reason. They were born to coach.

So, if you are reading this and realize you are married to a coach who’s likely in his career for the long haul congratulations! This doesn’t mean your man will never consider any other job, but it’s likely the energy and joy he has around his job right now won’t automatically replicate itself in another career, so as long as coaching is an option.

A Football Coach’s Impact

A Football Coach’s Impact

A Football Coachs Impact


Last weekend Ordell and I traveled 6 hours to meet up with several coaching families for two days. While he spent most of two days listening to presentations, gathering information about football formations, strength training ideas and other strategies I caught up with friends we hadn’t seen in several years.

As we compared notes on our teams, kids, moving experiences and jobs I couldn’t help but smile at how quickly our group fell back into easy conversation.

With Football Families Distance Isn’t A Factor

There are always exceptions to the rules, but I’ve learned that 99% of the time distance does not impede coaching families’ desire to support each other.  Whether it’s late night phone calls, group texts, watching games online or traveling on a bye-week to cheer from the stands for other teams, coaching families celebrate and mourn with each other even after we depart for different staffs.

As great as it is to stay in touch with those we used to be on staff with or once coached, nothing compares to uninterrupted time laughing and reflecting on crazy adventures lived together.

Reflecting on the Impact of a Coach

For many in this group, our early coaching experiences were influenced by the opportunity to be on staff under the couple in the center. It’s been 15 years since we left Andy’s staff and even though he’s now easily identified by his silver beard, I’ll always remember the day he was named head coach of my now alma mater.

Andy recently celebrated his 50th birthday and as part of that celebration, our group took time to reflect on our how life timelines have been directly influenced by Andy’s decisions. This group spent much of our 20’s and early 30’s together either as coach/player or on coaching staffs together. Between us there have been 23 coaching jobs (at least) which have covered 7 states. We’ve had amazing seasons and terrible ones. At one point while four of the families here were on staff together we averaged someone having a new baby every 6 months.

The memories are great, but the legacy cannot be ignored.  Andy took a risk with each of these men when he hired them. He took a risk when he created space for us to all learn as dating, engaged and newlywed couples. For Ordell and I, our relationship with Andy and Betsy began when we were still college students, and included two short windows on staff. My story is unique because I was an athletic training student and served Andy’s football teams for a few years.

Andy and Betsy modeled life both on and off the field. We watched them make hard decisions for their family. We watched them pursue the Lord together and individually. Mostly, we experienced life together through meals, games, bus rides and prayer. Our experience was such a positive one that years later their influence is still easily identified in our current team and staff interactions even with our individual adaptations.

Ordell and I may have a unique story about our time under Andy’s leadership, but similar stories can be told by each family represented here as well as many others not pictured. Andy is an example of how the impact of a coach extends well beyond the games he coaches.

There has been a lot said about how a coach influences his players, but it extends further. A head coach models for his staff how to treat their wives and children. He sets the tone for the discipline of players as well as community interactions. As his staff learns by observing him and working directly with him their personal coaching philosophies are formed.

Just as a coach’s influence will help young coaching families learn how to survive the football life he can just as easily model how not do things. We’ve worked with those coaches too. But it is Andy to receives our credit and appreciation for all that has transpired the last two decades.

coaching legacy

It may seem crazy that Ordell and I would drive 12 hours in a weekend to spend time with this group, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s great to know there are people who understand you without having to explain things, but to sit with them for even a few hours in person is worth the investment. To get to celebrate Andy for a few minutes was the icing on the cake of an amazing time away.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself moving forward is to remember how far you’ve come and acknowledge those that helped you along the way. It’s worth it to do so, even if it takes a 6-hour drive to do it in person.

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