I hear this one all the time from Coaches, especially at the high school level. "We just don't have leaders on our team this year." Hmmm. How do you measure that? What marks a leader? What makes a leader?
For those of us who grew up at least a couple decades ago, the skills that people in the athletic culture might consider those of leaders were often born out of necessity. We made up our own games to play. We didn't play on organized teams until we were 7-8 years old, maybe older. Our parents dropped us off at practice and picked us up when it was over. I know that's a generalization and there are certainly exceptions, but that's what life was like for many of us.
Now our children are playing on teams at age 3-4. Their play is far more supervised. Parents sit and watch practices that they aren't helping coach. It's not a question of right and wrong...there are definitely positive things about higher levels of parental involvement and supervision. At the same time, we have a generation of kids who have little to no experience figuring out how to entertain themselves (at least without a screen in front of them). They have little experience in conflict resolution. Our healthy desires to be involved with and protect our children can leave them ill-equipped to figure out how to handle difficult or challenging situations.
So it's little wonder that by the time they reach high school, many of their Coaches are wondering what happened to all the leaders. The young people who arrive in our programs ready to lead are going to be fewer and fewer, so as Coaches, we must be more intentional about helping them develop the qualities we are looking for. The choice is ours, we can either cry about the lack of leadership in the generation we are coaching, or we can serve them and those who will follow by helping them become what we're looking for.