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How Successful Coach Cracks the Generation Z Code

Published: 2023-06-16
How Successful Coach Cracks the Generation Z Code
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Imagine this: I’m a high school coach and college faculty member, navigating the unpredictable waters of Generation Z student-athletes.

I've seen everything from the memes that make me chuckle to the endless TikToks and constant buzz of Snapchat notifications. But amidst the chaos, I've managed to uncover some hidden gems about Generation Z athletes.

It's like having a front-row seat to their world, witnessing their unique characteristics and preferences up close. This firsthand experience has provided me with invaluable insights into the world of coaching (and teaching) this dynamic generation.


What is Generation Z


Generation Z, the cohort born between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s, are the architects of a new era, reshaping societal landscapes with their digital proficiency and global consciousness. As the first generation to grow up entirely within the digital age, they are not just tech-savvy but technologically integrated, processing information at an unprecedented speed. Their unique blend of social awareness and activism, coupled with a fearless approach to individuality and diversity, is inspiring societal change. As we navigate through 2023, Gen Z's influence is palpable across workplaces, marketplaces, and political arenas. Though often generalized, this generation is a rich mosaic of experiences, shaped by a plethora of cultural, geographical, and personal factors, redefining the future in their innovative and inclusive stride.



How to deal with Generation Z athletes?


Embrace Their Digital Fluency

Generation Z practically popped out of the womb with smartphones in hand. They are the masters of all things digital, and we need to dive headfirst into their world. By embracing technology, video analysis tools, and interactive platforms, we can tap into their digital fluency and enhance their learning and athletic development. Speak their language and keep them engaged in this digital age.


Nurture Collaboration and Individuality

Generation Z values teamwork while celebrating individuality. They're a generation of high achievers, each striving to stand out from the crowd. As coaches, we must create an environment that fosters effective communication, teamwork, and inclusivity. By honoring their individual perspectives and encouraging their collaborative spirit, we empower them to thrive within the team dynamic.




Provide Timely and Constructive Feedback

Generation Z wants feedback, and they want it now. Gone are the days of leaving them in suspense until the end of the season. Whether on the field or in the classroom, they crave instant feedback that’s constructive and actionable. Balancing praise and constructive criticism fuels their motivation, boosts their confidence, and helps them progress continuously.


Foster Personal Growth

Generation Z athletes are dreamers with big ambitions. They seek personal growth in all aspects of their lives. We have the privilege of guiding them toward becoming well-rounded individuals. Emphasize essential life skills such as resilience, discipline, time management, and goal setting. Additionally, it provides opportunities to experience autonomy, choice, and responsibility. By allowing them more ownership and developing skills related to independence, we empower them to become unstoppable forces both on and off the field.


Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion

Generation Z is all about embracing differences and breaking down stereotypes. It is a generation that values diversity and inclusivity, and it is our responsibility to create an environment that embraces these values. Encourage open discussions, challenge outdated beliefs, and cultivate a culture of respect and acceptance. By celebrating differences and providing equal opportunities for all athletes, we foster a sense of belonging and create a team that's stronger together.




As we navigate the world of coaching Generation Z, let's remember to speak their digital language, nurture their individuality, provide timely feedback, foster personal growth, and celebrate diversity and inclusion. By understanding and embracing the unique qualities of this remarkable generation, we can unlock their full potential and guide them toward success. This is a tool I use, recommend, and offer.

Game on!