Coaching millennials: What a veteran Baby Boomer has learned

Posted On April 29, 2018

Herman Edwards has pretty much seen it all in a football coaching career that started in 1987 at San Jose State and ended up including head coaching stints in the NFL with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

But Edwards, who at 64 fits right in the middle of the Baby Boom generation, is having to learn a few new tricks now that he’s accepted a job as head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils. Since it’s his first coaching job since 2008 – he’s spent the last decade in broadcasting – what he doesn’t have a lot of experience in is coaching millennials.

But Edwards appears to be a quick study.

In a recent interview on the Sports Talk show with Bo Mattingly (and shared by, Edwards shared what he’s learned about coaching millennials. And it’s not the same old participation-trophy gibberish.

  1. Be direct. “Their minds work a bit different,” Edwards told Mattingly. “They multi-task.”
  2. Be spontaneous. With shorter attention spans, you’ll lose them with the same old spiel.
  3. Be cognizant that they all learn in different ways, and keep it interesting. But that goes for all of us, doesn’t it? Who wants boring?
  4. Teach in small doses. Let them take a break now and then and walk around a bit. Short attention spans, remember?

Being the head coach of a major college or professional football team is similar to being a CEO. Edwards is the head of an organization that includes a large group of assistant coaches, trainers, equipment managers, off-field analysts, video personnel, and of course, a hundred or so “employees” who are highly trained at their specific jobs, but require constant professional development – practice.

So while Edwards tries to help the Sun Devils win the Pac-12 and possibly make the college football playoffs, you can put this wisdom to use in your company as well. They could be the first steps toward putting together a winning millennial team of your own.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Training Industry