Experience the Difference

Coaching the ‘Y’ Generation

Coaching the ‘Y’ Generation

Now in the midst of my 37th consecutive year of coaching with myself being a baby boomer born in 1960, I can say it has been an ‘interesting ride’ through the generations from baby boomer, to X-gen to the subsequent Y generation.

There is a definite ‘older person’ perception out there that the current Y generations are lazy, over-confident, narcissistic, lacking in commitment, discipline and drive.

It is generally accepted that the Y generation are those born between 1982 and 2000. That would put those ages 14 to 32 squarely a part of the Y generation.  As I am sit here and write training programs which I have done every day of my life, I find more and more of those programs are for athletes within the Y generation.

Gone are the days of presenting a program to an athlete with a simple order to ‘just get it done’! They may (may) have asked why and my answer was: well because I said so and as I am your coach you will do it!

When I look for high achieving athletes as I have in the past and as I do now, not much has changed. They are the ones who are driven to do exactly what needs to be done in the most time efficient, safe and up to date way.

The Y generation however has taken those characteristics to a whole new level in comparison to the previous 2 generations.

They are ‘Tech Savvy’ and rely on this technology to perform better in their studies and their jobs. They seem to be connected to some kind of technology 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

They are fast moving, fast thinking and are usually willing to trade higher and better results, even pay for less time input in order to maintain a better work/life balance.

Not wanting to make the mistakes of their parents’ generation, the Y generation is much more ambitious. They are achievement oriented and supremely confident in making things happen. They have extremely high expectations of their employers or people that are in positions of authority or mentors and are not usually afraid to question that authority.

More than likely as a result of our schools ‘participation’ in sports systems now, they likely participated in team events and other group activities where no-one was left out. Because of this Generation Y is loyal, committed and wants and craves to be included and involved.

The Y generation seem to crave attention in the form of feedback and guidance, appreciate being kept in the loop and actively seek frequent praise and reassurance.

After reading what I consider characteristics typical of the Y generation it is like reading all of the essential characteristics of an elite athlete, then it can’t be surprising to most and certainly not me, that having coached athletes of many generations the highest achieving athletes I have ever coached come from the Y generation.



One of the characteristics of the Y generation is that they are confident and ambitious and as such feel able to take on important roles. I feel that this (over)confidence at times has led to the ‘explosion’ of young athletes,(probably before their time) especially in triathlon to step up to becoming a professional athlete and compete head on with long term established professional athletes that are now well into their 30’s and beyond.

As a high level coach and once I understood all of the above, I have had to continually make the necessary changes to my coaching style and delivery for this loyal, fast moving and thinking committed Y generation athlete who once nurtured and tapped show anything at all is possible from them.

The ‘team’ ethos that was set very early in their years continues right through to the appreciation shown to those that help and assist them in their high achievements. Mostly they understand that high achievement is not achieved on their own.

In my case it is the very reason I am motivated to get out of bed at 4am every day because I love working with the Y generation more than any of the previous generations primarily because of that ‘team environment’ that is created once a number of Y generation athletes or people are put together.


Andrew Ivey


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