Here is how times have changed. Years ago, 85% of the kids I worked with could accept being told they were not doing things correct and had to work harder to get to where they wanted to be. Now, 85% of the kids can’t accept hearing those. Why? They are overwhelmed because of time constraints from playing year-round travel sports in multiple sports, parental demands to play better, and to be better in school. They are stressed enough, so I don’t pile it on.
Instead, so much of my time with kids now is spent saying things that intimate “It’s not the end of the world” and “Don’t beat yourself up just because you are not perfect.” I suggest they practice more but don’t insist, and say, “We’ll get it,” so to not add another pressure in their life that they have to figure it all out themselves.
So many burnouts from the demands to be better than everyone else and get that scholarship. Because of that, I share the following with players and parents, and often with a short story that makes the following points.
• Playing and classroom success are not what defines an athlete. What defines them is a willingness to accept challenges along with a solid work ethic to be better, not the best.
• Enjoying practice is as important as game success.
• Dealing with the adversity of not meeting expectations, self and others, in a positive manner is what’s important.
Coaches who fail to adapt to the new generation produce 10 times more burnouts than those who understand the above. That is my estimation from 30 years of coaching, which I feel I do not need a scientific study to back up the guesstimate.