November 19, 2015 • Coaching

The approach to coaching Millennials

Coaching today’s athletes — Millennials — is an arduous challenge for those who are not technologically savvy. Facebook, tablets and iPhones are becoming almost as necessary as clipboards and whistles.

Coaching 'Millennials' presents challenges for coaches who are not accustomed to working with a new generation. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman
Coaching ‘Millennials’ presents challenges for coaches who are not accustomed to working with a new generation. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman

Jason Schreiber, head baseball coach at Alvin College (Texas), identified this obstacle early on and he believes he has found a way to overcome it. In his book, “The Millennial Method,” he describes how changes in his approach to coaching helped his team break the national rankings, finishing 2014 with the best season in school history.

Schreiber’s book, written with award-winning journalist Gary Taylor, is a great read for coaches who share these difficulties in reaching today’s generation of athletes. Schreiber specifically describes how tools like video became critical assets in educating his players.

I especially enjoyed this passage from the book:

My breakthrough came as the result of research into the psychology of Millennials combined with recognition of an important observation on education. While attending a seminar on learning, I was struck by a lecturer’s conclusion about the most effective ways to learn. He offered a simple formula on retention of lessons. Students will retain only 10 percent of what they hear and 50 percent of what they do. But, he said, they retain 90 percent of what they teach.

It sounded like the old Medical intern’s mantra for learning emergency room techniques: “Watch one, do one, teach one.”

And, it resonated with me search for a tool to motivate Millennials on the athletic field. If I could find a way to have them teach the skills they needed to learn, I thought, Millennials might find that both engaging and effective.  

Just then, my cell phone began to buzz. As I scrolled the screen to read a text message, the idea hit me square in the face. Millennials are never without their phones. And their phones do much more than deliver messages and conversations. They take photos. And they make videos.

I wondered: What if I could get my players to create videos explaining the skills I had just explained to them?

Schreiber goes on to talk about his players’ reaction to the videos and how the process completely changed the way he communicates with his team. The book is just 48 pages long, a very easy read for coaches who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.

We’ve written often about coaching Millennials, including this one offering tips on leading today’s athletes, but Schreiber’s story is a real-world example that these strategies do work. All it requires is some creativity and commitment from the coaching staff.

To purchase the book on paperback or Kindle edition, click here.