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How to Motivate this Generation

Talking with coaches and teachers that have been at it for a while you will quickly hear "I just don't understand this generation."

Today's athlete is different from years past. My generation (1980-1999) has moved through college and is in the world. The present generation is different. Instead of forcing this generation to be motivated the way we were, what does the research say?

These young people are easily bored, are socially connected to their peers, proficient in technology, and desire to be challenged by their teachers.

I recently read an article on Motivating the Modern Athlete by Dr. Marty Durden. This article can be found by Clicking Here.  His findings are worth sharing.

Coaches generally agree that athletes' perceptions of authority have changed in past decades. Years ago the coach was viewed as an authoritarian figure akin to a military leader. Many still try to motivate in this way. Paul "Bear" Bryant and Bobby Knight were able to achieve a high level of success based upon strict discipline and demanding leadership. Are you trying to motivate in this way?

The modern athlete seems averse to this style of coaching. This generation’s athlete desire much less direction from coaches and have access to the answers online. The culture of athletics continues to change and influences the perceptions that modern athletes have toward competitive athletics, teammates and coaches. 

In this modern sport climate, the concept of servant-leader coaching remains a relevant model for the contemporary coach.

Evidence supports the notion that ethical core values have a significant positive effect on player motivation. Coaches still possess unique standing in our society and are widely viewed with respect. Parents tell me on occasion “Can you help me? My son/daughter wont listen to me. But they will listen to you.” During these changing times, it is important that coaches retain this ethical sense of leading the young people of our nation. Coaches are positive influences in society when their leadership style is based on core values. 

What are your core values? Click Here to develop your core values.

I have interviewed over 2,000 students and athletes in 5 years on the effectiveness of servant-leadership coaching on the motivational level of high school athletes. The survey was designed to determine what coaching traits served to motivate the athletes best. The seven traits surveyed were: (listed alphabetically)

Altruism - Giving to others with no motive to gain something in return; kindness. 

Empowering Others - Developing/mentoring others; teaching you how to play the game. 

Humility - Focusing on other people rather than oneself; meekness. 

Love - Placing unconditional value upon the individual as a person and not what he/she offers to enable the coach to win more games; maternal/paternal affection. 

Service - Willing to assist others; helpfulness. 

Trust - Demonstrating confidence in others to succeed; keeping promises. 

Vision for the Followers - Helping team members to imagine their potential to succeed; helping others to establish goals.

Results of the survey indicate the coaching trait that provides the greatest motivational value is:

Trust (35%)

Love (16%)

Empowering (15%)

Vision (13%)

Service (7%)

Altruism (6%)

Humility (6%)

An interesting conclusion from this study:

Young people are motivated by people who they trust, who demonstrate love toward them, and who see their worth and seek to develop them.

It comes as no surprise that trust and love remain timeless virtues in the modern world. It is an affirmation of servant-leadership to discover how research confirms that authentic core values are cross-generational constructs that remain relevant motivators for coaching the modern athlete. Servant leadership coaching in the modern sport culture of America remains a viable and compelling style that is proven as an effective tool to motivate athletes.