The old adage “the only bad questions are the questions never asked” does not hold true anymore. At 26 years old I find myself saying “kids these days” more often than I feel like a kid myself. The discrepancy in human psyche between an era that spans less than a decade is unfathomable. From kids in college down to the 9 year olds rockin I-phone 5’s, everyone seems to have questions. I remember as youths, we were encouraged to use questions to attain knowledge and expand our ability to think critically. Now questions are used to waste time, to lay the insurmountable burdon of problem solving on the next person. It is commonplace to question authority, to demand answers from figures that were previously respected in a way as to not warrant even a thought of questioning. Answers seem to be needed now in order to maintain this new definition of respect. The notion that something is done simply because it is asked of you has become more and more rare.
I say this not as an ignorant rant usually reserved for someone much much older. I deal with impressive youths all the time. I do say this because I believe if you question, you MUST be able to answer. Most of the individuals who question, rarely have good answers. Articulating a great answer to a question is uncommon now. Pride now comes from questioning, instead of having the drive, knowledge, or curiosity to seek or figure out the answer yourself. As if asking a good question gets you the gold star…o, wait thats what kids are taught.
So because of all this, I recently banned all questions in the weight room for a group of athletes. By no means was it to be malicious or to punish. It was to teach. To teach a simple fact, that sometimes you just have to FIGURE IT OUT!!! Figure out what the exercise is, figure out what “week” we are on, KNOW what is expected from a drill/exercise/training session, figure out how to push yourself, figure out how to find the will to grind out the last rep, figure out how to lead…figure out that those who ask questions are usually asking them to those who lead.
We must turn it around. As a coach, you ask the questions. Ask your athletes what the first thing they should think about prior to a certain exercise. Ask your athletes why they lost their previous game. Ask your athletes to articulate to the rest of the group what is expected from a certain drill. PUT THEM ON THE SPOT AND DEMAND AN ANSWER. We continue to lower the bar on expectations to get kids off the hook. In a text happy world, we are at least giving them practice to re-learn how to speak. If a kid does not give you the right answer, he or she is WRONG. The response is not, “well good job, you are on the right track, can anyone else help ___ out?” No…”you are wrong, NEXT.”
I may have not always had this mindset, but thankfully I was taught. We should not expect some of our youth to know exactly how to carry themselves as if experienced adults. Rather, we should take advantage of our positions as educators to teach the invaluable lessons not acquired in the regimented world of the classroom or in our praise happy society. These are lessons that can only be learned by providing an environment that continually challenges one physically and mentally, until there is no choice but to come up with an answer.