Coaching Today's Athlete: 3 Reasons Why Athletes Today are Different

There are many coaches who have talked about this subject including Jimbo Fisher. Football Coaches are constantly needing to adapt, but this topic applies for strength coaches as well. Strength coaches already have many different cultures they need to immerse themselves in. That variety combined with the ever-evolving personalities of today's athlete can be a challenge. Here are 3 reasons (out of many) that can be challenging.

They want to know why

Athletes today don't just do what you tell them do to do. They want to know why they are doing it. Educate your athletes on the why is part of your job as a coach. The "because I said so" may work for toddlers (it actually doesn't), but it is probably the quickest way to avoid a buy-in from your athletes.

The truth is, athletes today are smarter and are more aware of training. They want to know not only why they are doing an exercise, but how it will help them. As a coach, letting them know how each exercise will translate on the field, court or pool, can be a source of motivation in itself. This doesn't mean you need to justify everything you do as a coach. I have made that mistake in the past. It also doesn't mean you can't get your athletes to work hard. Not everything had to have a great answer as long as it has an answer.

There were times when I was asked by a team why we were doing Prowler pushes, the answer was a simple as, "Because no one else on your schedule is." Sometime you need to assure that no one is working harder than your teams.

They have a tougher time trusting

In today's world, there are more and more athletes coming from single parent homes. A lack of a male role model in the home can have a detrimental effect on the youth of this country. These young men grow up not knowing a mentor or have a positive example around them. This is another reason why being a coach may be the most important job in this country.

Stereotypes are formed early in life and it takes a lot of work and patience for coaches to break down those barriers. Athletes today are skeptical of the drill sergeant type discipline. Some of these young people need a coach to listen and be empathetic to what they have gone through. Trust is a two way street.

They are more aware of training

Athletes today are exposed to so much more then perhaps we coaches were as athletes. Between the latest eBook with the brand new methods or the cool guys in a video wearing board shorts telling you how to be mobile and how to breathe; information is everywhere. Problem is inexperience doesn't allow athletes to distinguish between the info that pertains to their situation and the info that is presented to sell a product.

Youtube is littered with videos of bad form maxes and some questionable "team building" activities. What is predominantly in the highlight and motivation videos is the silly shit to highlight the "competitiveness". Good form, spotting, and and manageable weight isn't good for recruiting.

That all being said, athletes see every training video, Instagram pic, and tweet from sources reputable and not. Coaches cannot control the perception of their athletes. What you control is providing the energy and enthusiasm to create a training environment worthy of your athletes being proud of.

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