Traits and Tips on Being a Highly Coachable Player:
There’s no question: Athletes can be sensitive people. They may look tough on the outside but they can be delicate underneath. In trying to sort out those characteristics of coachable versus uncoachable players, this is what is discovered about athletes in general:
- Athlete’s tend to roll their eyes or take things personally that they shouldn’t.
- Athletes can seem ungrateful even to those who help them the most.
- Athlete’s read into things more deeply than they should.
- Athlete’s often believe everything is about them, even someone else’s bad day.
As a former athlete (now Coach), I’m guilty of all the above. While I tried my best to be coachable and to not take things personally, my attitude was something that needed constant attention and required constant mental work.
Coachability is the athlete’s choice:
“Becoming more coachable isn’t something that can be achieved with more drills, more reps, or multiple coach-player conferences. Those are external methods of repair that a coach can implement, but a player’s coachability is a mentality that requires diligence and attention from the athlete. In other words: coachability is up to the athlete, not the coach. The worst of it is that, most of the time, athletes don’t even KNOW they’re uncoachable! It can be a shock to find out that it isn’t the coach, it isn’t the team, it isn’t the sport, isn’t the equipment… it’s actually themselves who are making life so hard.”
But, before an athlete can start on the road to becoming more coachable, they first need to understand the benefits of having a coachable mentality.
Top 5 potential benefits of being more coachable:
- More playing time (and less drill or bench time).
- Greater cohesion with team and/or coaches.
- Accelerated learning.
- Deeper and more fulfilling relationships with your coaches.
- Greater internal calm: accepting criticism for what it is (INFORMATION) instead of what it isn’t (AN ATTACK) requires a solid internal foundation.
Top 4 Traits of a Coachable Athlete:
- Humility, Humility, Humility: Coachable athletes understand that they don’t always have the right answer but are willing to admit it, ask for help, and continue to learn.
- Healthy Self-Esteem: Coachable athletes take criticism and apply it to development rather than see it as a personal attack. They set their egos aside and adapt for the betterment of themselves and their teammates.
- Flexibility (Able to Give up Control): Coachable athletes understand that to get to where they want to be they need to have faith in their mentors, teachers and coaches to help guide them. This is the only way to make a truly authentic improvement for the better.
- Honesty (with yourself): Coachable athletes understand what they need to get better, and are willing to admit when they are wrong or need help.
A little more in-depth look:
Be a Good Communicator and Listener –These interaction skills will not only make you a better student-athlete but they will make you a better person.
Listen – Listen to what your coaches say, not how they say it. Easier said than done but, like any skill, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Practice “mean no offense, take no offense” when both speaking AND listening to your teammates and coaches. They really (REALLY) want you to be your best even if it sometimes comes out sideways. They are there to help you be successful. Trust them!
Be Open to Critique – In order for your coach to do his or her job, you must be open to feedback, evaluation, assessment and always welcome any form of a critique of both your on and off-field actions. This is why it is important to already have a solid relationship of trust and mutual respect with your coach
Don’t roll your eyes. It’s immature and says more about you than the person you’re offending.
Hard Work – Your coach will notice your work ethic as much as he notes your potential. You need to exhibit both.
Discipline – Inconsistency will hurt you on the court and break down your coach-player relationship. Your coach needs to know that you are committed. Don’t waste his or her time “dabbling” in a sport.
Patience – Be patient with yourself and with your teammates. That is what practice sessions are all about – growth is a day-to-day process. With each game, you learn more about yourself and your team.
Accountability – Take responsibility for all your actions and your team’s actions. Yes, both!
Be Balanced – While you are a student-athlete, it can’t be all about volleyball and nothing else. Your coach needs you to take your studies seriously. Be a good student and you will be a better athlete.
Always say ‘thank you’. In fact, say it more often than you think you need to. Thank your coaches for taking you on a road trip. Thank them for making you watch film (and for editing the film so it’s not as long as it could be!). Thank them for scouting your opponent late into the night. Thank them for totally committing themselves to your improvement. Thank them for holding you to a high standard. And especially thank them during those moments when you don’t feel thankful… those are times when they’re helping you most.
Shocker: Your coach is human, too. They aren’t perfect (and – surprise! – neither are you). Their stresses and emotions get misplaced just like yours do. They get hurt by things you do, say, and they feel pain when you disregard them or don’t appreciate them.
If you really have something to say, SAY IT. I’m big on communication. Huge on it, in fact. So, if all else fails and you just don’t get what you need from your coach, be an adult and communicate that in a mature way. Whining about something constantly, or tuning out and not committing yourself to your team, is NOT a solution. In fact, it’s the exact opposite: absolutely detrimental to you, your team, and your coach’s ability to effectively train you.
Directly ask for feedback. Your coaches have a whole roster of players to look after and might not always get around to you as quickly as you’d like. Every coach would love to have one-on-one conversations or meetings every day with every player, but that’s simply not a realistic goal. Therefore, if they don’t get to you right away, go to them and ask for their thoughts and feedback.
Set up a weekly check-in with your coach in a place where both of you can chat informally about your strengths and skills that need working on. This doesn’t have to take long. Just a few minutes after practice can be a huge help in keeping you on track to your goals.
Treat your parents, siblings or others outside of your team with respect: Why? Coaches and Recruiters are always watching. How you speak to them, act towards them or even the things you don’t do for them could be the difference between a recruiter deciding on you or another player to give a scholarship to, it could also keep you for being picked for a school or club team. So, the next time your parents or siblings “get on your nerves” and you yell at them at a match, tournament or anywhere in public, think before you respond, that someone could be watching that wants to make a decision on you. Always be respectful, thankful and courteous to those around you, especially those who sacrifice their lives to make you better as a person and athlete!
Being coachable is one of life’s most important skills and attitudes, whether or not you’re an athlete. If you’re any kind of person who wishes to grow, learn, improve, excel or peak perform, you should care about whether or not you’re coachable. In other words, being coachable relates to a happy, productive life.