Joining an athletic community or team consisting of multigenerational members will allow you to reap the benefits of training and racing together with the different ages and experience levels. It also keeps your training fun and allows for exciting growth both as an individual team member and as part of a diverse team.
In a multigenerational team, the adults tend to push themselves harder to keep up with the ‘kids,’ and the teens heighten the pace and the overall energy. There is physical and mental value to a training environment built on dual mentorship, encouragement, and fun—and many more benefits which we’ll explore below.
Respect Through the Generations
Older members often model boundaries like safety and respect that can sometimes be lost in an undeveloped teenager or youth brain. Many parents are (hyper) aware of research showing the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are still developing in teen brains—and not always at the same rate. Until roughly the age of 25, teens don’t think as much as they feel. Mature brains simply connect more to consequences of their actions, and adult influence can remind younger athletes to do what we tell them as parents: to “make good choices.”
Fun While Living in the Moment
Young people can bring about more levity and laughter with often a willingness to make more mistakes and learn from them. Young people tend to easily live in the moment, and this helps older athletes loosen up and use workouts to enjoy themselves and relieve stress.
Sharing and Confidence through Connection and Camaraderie
Younger generations can teach people about new training technology, current pop culture and evolving ideas, while older athletes are presented with the opportunity to share wisdom and histories. Young athletes are often motivated and inspired by the work ethic of older members. There is a deep connection and camaraderie that comes with participating in the same sport at the same time.
Growing in Compassion and Empathy
Older athletes get to see and engage with ‘kids’ as people, not a socially constructed idea, so they can get away from generalized sayings, like “kids these days.” Similarly, younger athletes get to do the same with the “Boomers” and beyond.
That mutual respect helps older athletes watch out for kids when they are teetering on the edge of making bad decisions—and younger athletes care more about how these adults perceive them. Older athletes feel compelled to practice what they preach, which can help stay accountable to practices that better honor their bodies and goals in and outside of the workouts.
The impact of Mentorship and Friendship
This one is probably my favorite perk of coaching an intergenerational team. My life’s work and goals all revolve around relationships. I love to bask in watching the unlikely friendships unfold around a common goal that positively impact members’ overall life and health. There is a bond that runs through a team and community. You can’t stop in the local coffee shop without seeing teammates, of any age, chatting under ‘Zone Racing’ masked faces.
One Swim, Bike, Run at a Time.
When I asked my 16-year-old son why he thought he benefited from being a part of a multigenerational triathlon team, he replied with the very insightful, “they are old.” As mentioned, he has an underdeveloped brain, as well as an adversity to answering my daily thought-provoking questions. The important thing is that I know, as his mom and coach, that these benefits are sinking in for all of us—one swim, bike, run at a time.