When I started coaching I was young enough to get IT. Somewhere along the lines I completely lost IT. It was only when I realised I’d lost IT that I set about finding out how to regain IT. The IT I speak of is the ability to relate to people from a younger generation than your own. I think this is part of the natural ageing process, that while we’re very young we see it as an entirely natural thing that we can relate to others our age while caring not one bit about whether adults understand us at all. When we reach our teens we want nothing to do with those annoying little CHILDREN (usually used as an insult) and possibly even less to do with adults, though they are useful for transportation and money. When we reach early adulthood we’re so completely self absorbed that nobody else really matters to us outside of our tight circle of friends (often new friends). Then, slowly, it all changes. We realise we’re getting older and it’s now our turn to ‘adult’. We’re not as in touch with the next generation as we thought we’d be, or as close to the last as we would have assumed. We see ourselves growing into our parents as we simultaneously fail to understand our children. 

Translated into coaching that means we’re often poorly placed to understand the needs, motivation, communication style, language and feelings of the young people who walk through the doors of the club. Sure, some things will never change. Most kids will like chocolate and sweets, making loud noises, talking over each other, telling stories and playing games. But the subtle differences from generation to generation add up. When I started coaching I was shocked at how there were some kids who couldn’t run well, roll or tumble, tie their shoelaces, tell me their parents or home phone number and a host of other things that would have been taken for granted a generation or two before. Now, kids don’t know what shoelaces are, right and left are subjective choices, parents aren’t something you can take for granted and the kid who can do a cartwheel is a superstar. 

Those same children though can operate phones, tablets and other electronic devices without any instructions or teaching. They live with more diversity and less certainty than we did and are in many ways stronger for it. They see shades of grey, the world isn’t so black and white to them as I remember when I was younger. They’re curious, they ask why… actually they demand a why. They want to know ‘what’s in it for me’, but they also want to know that you’re in it for them. Their sense of wonder is no less developed and there are often less defined boundaries of state, culture, gender, age, education or opportunity. The past generations have made the world this generation of children are growing up in and made it the best they could. We as coaches want to help shape the younger generation to fully appreciate what our sport and martial art has to offer, but the lens they see it through is not the same lens we looked through.

Let’s take a deep and considered look at how we teach and put the needs, motivation, communication style, language and feelings of the young people we aspire to educate at the heart of everything we do. If we do this, we might just get IT.

Stay tuned for more discussion, example drills and games and some case studies! In the mean time be sure to check us out on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter @TKDCoach_Academy!

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