While I may not be old compared to some, I’m getting old in the mind of the players that I coach. With every gray hair I’m further removed from what makes Generation iY (Tim Elmore) tick. I was born on the cusp of Y and iY. A child that grew up with computers in school, but not in the home. A child that grew up with cell phones- but they were the size of a shoe box, and a child where the internet existed- it just cost you by the minute. So how do we keep these players interested in the modern era?
Facebook/Youtube/Hudl: After every game I will piece together highlights of our game. In order for kids today to show off as much as they want, you have to make your highlights Facebook and/or Twitter accessible. Hudl may not be the only place to include highlights. Uploading to Youtube and Facebook are alternative options that allow for ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ that can boost your players egos while not doing too much damage to your program between practice hours (at least you hope!).
Blue Shirts: Penn State and Nebraska have had similar iterations of the same system we use. Our blue shirts are players that wear royal blue practice jerseys. These players got there by being dedicated academically and athletically. They are our leaders on the field and in the classroom. This year we will have 6 blue shirts and four will be permanent members (barring any serious instances) while the 5th and 6th will be weekly spots open for competition. Becoming a blue shirt is worth a pride sticker, first eats, and you’re automatically a member of the leadership council for important votes (letting players who quit back on the team, or firing a player that lacks dedication).
Pride Stickers: These are old hat, and some programs/coaches hate them, but I feel that it’s imperative to extrinsically reward Generation iY. However, we give them away for off-season dedication, academics, and volunteer hours- not just big plays.
Friday breakfast: I provide our players with juice, bananas, and donuts (I know, not exactly game fuel) on Friday mornings. It’s a great time to get some coach/player and player/player bonding and keep our kids out of trouble (they so rarely figure out that most of what I do is to keep them out of having free time).