Kids With Options

Lots of people in the college coaching world are talking about generational differences and how to “relate to Gen Z” players (and staff). We are telling coaches and leaders that they need to open up and be more vulnerable to those they lead. What does that mean?

I think we’re getting “opening up” wrong.

Teams need trust for sure, but this does not need to be personal–on either side. Coach, you can show “who you are” simply by sharing honestly what you believe in.

When you talk about what you believe in and why, when you clearly share the things that are foundational to you, you’re automatically being “authentic”. When you know, you know and when you share “who you are”, that’s who you are. That’s personal without being personal. It’s unlikely that everything you do is going to work well, every time, but everything you are, the be behind the do, is real and that matters for trust.

Some coaches seem to think that sharing values and asking questions, aside from the rhetorical, is a sign of weakness that could damage their coaching authority. This is a challenge, yet by not sharing we risk lack of understanding as well as lack of commitment.

Commitment to what? This is an important question.

There is no middle ground. Either you state your beliefs and talk–even to yourself–about why they are important or you keep operating in a veiled manner that keeps people guessing. Kids with options want to know you.

Rule #21

By definition.

Be specific with your language. Know what you mean and be clear.

The shorter the hops the easier it is.

That doesn’t mean every ball can be a short hop play. Feel the pace, allow your brain to work and be smooth.

Find a wall or a partner and practice.

Rule #16

Make believe can be fun and productive. Imagine yourself in a future situation and work out a way to make it great. Plan future relationships, make future plays.

Just because 100% of the pieces aren’t the way they would be in a game, the game itself is still being played.

Make your preparation as real as you can and see how the impact holds.

Local Rule #14

Every culture has one or more languages. Food is often one of them.

On our team we value eating well and healthy on balance. It’s like practicing the game fundamentals.

We also believe in testing. Figuring out what each person’s body needs, in quantity, timing and content, is an important part of nutritional knowledge.

That’s movement screening and positional work.

And then sometimes you work on your bat tricks, behind the back tosses and home run trots.

Have the Nutella, just don’t share spoons.

Rule #12

Rule #12 is an example of the “no kidding” kind of rule.

What if you made this “no kidding” rule, and others, a regular part of pre-pitch communication for outfielders, starting at a young age?

It’s not usually the highlight plays that make a difference. Make the routine plays easier with good talk and targeted practice along with enough live balls to make impactful experience.