As a college baseball coach, I am always looking for ways to get through to my players. This past season I tried something unique, and experienced tremendous success. For the first time in fifteen years of coaching, I was certain every player on my team was on the same page with me.
The idea came to me at a coach’s convention where a speaker emphasized we retain 10 percent of what we hear, 50 percent of what we do, and 90 percent of what we teach to someone else. For me, 90 percent represents a large number. So, I thought to myself: I have to get my players teaching.
But I quickly realized there is just not enough time in practice to have my players teach. Then I remembered that each of my guys has a cell phone with video capability. I wondered: Why not have my players teach me the ideas taught in practice by making videos on their smart phones?
I talked to a few of my players about the idea and their response was “Coach, you want me to make a YouTube video? We make videos all the time just not about baseball.”
When I decided to use the concept with my team, I saw remarkable results. Not only were my players learning through teaching, but the method also made me a better coach. I could determine immediately if I had done an effective job teaching in practice.
One example was the process used to install a defensive play in practice. After teaching the play in practice, I told my players to make videos explaining their responsibilities on that play. The next morning as I watched their videos, I could determine immediately if my players understood the play. And I could correct any problems before the mistakes emerged at practice. By using the feedback from the videos, I could make adjustments in the way I taught different concepts and could see which teaching method worked best for each player.
Although I wanted my players to make videos like they were teaching the world a concept, nothing they produced was put on YouTube or social media. My players did an outstanding job with their videos. Young people today take great pride in making videos.
We had one player who really struggled when it came to bunting, which is an effort skill. Anyone can bunt if they work on it. The staff had numerous conversations with this player trying to encourage him to become a better bunter. But he lacked a sense of urgency about the need to improve. So, one day I ordered a video. I told him to become an expert on bunting. I told him to talk to his coaches, his teammates and look on YouTube. I said: “In two weeks you are going to make a video and teach the world how to bunt.” He became our best bunter in two weeks. The fear of producing a foolish video increased his sense of urgency. And, in the championship game to win our conference, he executed a perfect bunt with two strikes.
We would not have won our conference without this breakthrough, which I call the Millennial Method because it appeals to this technology-driven generation of athlete. We used this method to teach our plays as well as our mental routines. We used it for skill development. And we even used it to correct a behavior issue.
The results so impressed me that I wrote a book entitled “The Millennial Method” to chronicle the many ways we used this teaching method and elaborate on our implementation of the method in our programs. It can work in any sport, once the coaches understand the motivations of the millennial generation. The response I have received about this concept has been very positive. Coaches are not only excited to try it with their athletes, but some coaches want to bring it into the class room.
As coaches we have conversations with players to improve their sense of urgency about learning a skill. We may think the conversations go well and expect the player will go straight to the field or court and get to work. But too often we learn that our definition of urgency and the player’s definition can be very different. Now I have seen this concept bridge the gap between the two definitions. The Millennial Method increases an athlete’s sense of urgency, helps players learn by teaching, and allows coaches to know for certain if our players know what we are teaching.
About the Author
As a baseball coach at Alvin College in Texas since 2000, Jason Schreiber has sent more than one hundred players to the Division I level and twenty into the pros with two of those making MLB rosters. Schreiber holds a bachelor’s degree in sports administration from the University of Houston and a master’s degree in fitness and human performance from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. Before his coaching career, Schreiber was named Houston high school player of the year at Bellaire High School in 1993. His college career included one season at the University of Kansas, one season at San Jacinto Junior college and two seasons for the University of Houston. Co-author Gary Taylor is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in newspapers and magazines covering a wide range of subjects, including sports. He also is the author of six books.