13 Ways to be More Coachable - Part 1!

Date Posted: 5/17/2016

Sports are filled with mental challenges, many of which we athletes bring upon ourselves. The coach-player dynamic is only one of the multitude of difficulties we face, but at the
same time it is often the most difficult to navigate. And it’s not surprising why: receiving criticism in any area of life is tough – from teachers in the classroom, from the boss on
the job, or from family or friends in our personal lives – but being able to graciously receive advice and mentorship is a necessary part of growth.  Today, I want to present you
with information on how to be more coachable.  But, first, let’s define it. Being coachable is:

  • Being grateful that someone cares enough about you to push you to improve beyond where you would get on your own.
  • Being vulnerable enough to know you’re not perfect.
  • Being open to honest feedback (even if it hurts).
  • Working to actively change bad habits.

Uncoachable athletes show certain key behaviors. It doesn’t take long for a coach to spot an uncoachable player, and very rarely can a coach make a player coachable.
How does one coach an athlete who fights back? It’s a daunting task.

No question athletes can be sensitive people. Though we may look tough on the outside, we can be delicate underneath. In talking with a number of coaches, trying to sort out those characteristics of coachable versus uncoachable players, this is what we discovered about athletes in general:

  • We tend to roll our eyes or take things personally that we shouldn’t.
  • We can seem ungrateful even to those who help us most.
  • We read into things more deeply than we should.
  • We often believe everything is about us, even someone else’s bad day.

Reflecting back on my playing days I was guilty of all of the above. While I tried my best to be coachable and to not take things personally, my attitude was (and sometimes still is) something
that needed constant attention and required constant mental work.  (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.