This should not be news to anyone but definitely something all coaches should know and or be aware of today. Let's be honest, we constantly say that kids are changing and they are getting "softer". To me, I think we just put too much pressure on them. I will agree I definitely believe some kids just lack the mental toughness and decision making part process but overall parents and coaches put a lot of pressure on kids today.
Think about it, back when you were growing up (if you are 35+ right now) college, academic success, involvement, friendships, etc were not nearly as stressed as much as it is now. When my parents were in High School I could only imagine what it looked like and from the stories I hear about High School and Middle School in the 70's and 80's it was basically an environment for students to come and make friends while receiving an education. Today, I know my middle school players are taking GEOMETRY and some of my 9th grade players are taking Algebra and Trigonometry! WHAT! I personally was not required to take Geometry until 10th grade and Algebra and Trig was actually not a requirement and I did not take it until COLLEGE. Meanwhile we have 12-14 year olds taking courses I was taking at 16 or 20 years old. We emphasis education so much nowadays which there is nothing wrong with that but if we have learned anything as human beings the more you force someone to do something the less likely they want to do it. Plus, if we want to get ahead of the curve, it seems like higher education is finding its way out. Harvard Business professors have estimated 50% of American universities will go bankrupt in 10 to 15 years, while some have said that is false. Still the allegation is out there and college debt continues to increase therefore I would not be surprised if current High Schoolers think twice about college.
To be clear I am not advocating for not going to college and not paying attention to school, I went to college, studied at the university level for four years and probably will receive my Masters as well and I still believe college and higher education is not the golden ticket! What I am advocating for is parents and coaches need to let the loose on the leash a little bit, relax and not be so hard on their players/kids today. I will speak from personal experience here and say that my parents honestly put zero pressure on me academically. I should say my mother more so, but she obviously wanted me to value my education and do well in school but she could careless if I did not get a 90% or above in all my classes. She wanted me to know the importance of my education, do well and learn on my own and make my own decision when it came to education. Where today, I see some parents being complete helicopter parents and watching over every move their kid makes when it comes to grades or their schooling. And as far as coaching goes it is almost mandatory now that coaches are holding their players accountable academically and if he/she does not hold a respectable GPA they will not be able to play on the team. Which is counter productive in my eyes, while yes it is something that needs to be done but telling a kid they are not doing well in school therefore they cannot play only makes that student dislike school more now because you just took away the one thing that gets their mind off school (which is sports usually). The way I would use academic monitoring would be, if my player does not maintain a respectable GPA (that is your own judgement) then he/she cannot play in games but can still participate in practices.
If I am going to be frank here, I believe a lot of parents watch over their kids every move when it comes to school because they knew when they were growing up they did not pay attention that much or value education enough and saw how it may have affected their career path or amount of time it took to get a promotion in a job because they lacked the educational credentials. Therefore by seeing and experiencing that they portray their insecurities and or do what they "think/know" is best for their kid and have them put education on a pedestal and make it seem like education is the only ticket kids will have to a better life.
The readers out there who know me, know I am extremely hard on myself when it comes to anything in life. I always want to be the best, succeed and out perform anyone around me. Same thing goes for my coaching style, I am tough on my players, when it comes to on the ice or in the gym. I do not take it lightly on my players and you can ask anyone of the kids I've coached this year but when it comes time to joke around and have fun I'll be the first to crack a joke or make the boys laugh. Parents and coaches my advice to you would be, try and relate to your kid/players more. Understand what they are going through, the pressure they have on them, get to know them, talk to them, have conversation with them that don't pertain to school or sports. You may try and relate to them as when you were a kid but that's extremely useless, what you were like as a kid to when they are kids now. The social and culture environment are two totally different places. So put yourself in there shoes first before you jump down their throat, yell at them or "give up" on them.
Before you leave, answer this one question for me.
What's your purpose?