We can all think of someone we’ve worked with that is hard to manage. It may be their personality or passion getting in the way, or external factors influencing their behaviour. By the same token, we can all think of great team players – those who are coachable, and act as role models for the rest to follow. From Mo Farah to Sir Steve Redgrave – we can all think of special athletes that we admire that display these traits.
Being coachable is an important part of being a sports athlete. It reflects discipline, dedication and drive. It can also make the difference to winning and losing – on and off the pitch.
Whether you perform individually, or work as part of a sports team, being coachable is also important for relationships, especially with your sports coach.
There are however a few steps that can be taken to help improve your ability to be coached.
Respect in the Workplace
Being a coachable athlete means that you respect yourself and others. This extends to referee, opponents and other team-mates. Letting the side down, often isn’t a reflection of physical performance, of even winning or losing a game – it’s often down to attitude.
Being respectful and considerate of those around you means that there’s no room for ego getting in the way. Treat everyone with respect, if for no other reason that common courtesy.
Communication is key
When communication is weak, relationships break down. As part of your athletic performance training give consideration to how you communicate with others, and how this affects your performance. Being a successful athlete means being able to articulate your emotions in an eloquent manner. Just look at the respect that athletes like David Beckham and Jessica Ennis-Hill garner, from the way they effectively communicate with others.
Listen and learn
Being a coachable athlete means that you acknowledge room for improvement. It’s an understanding that the journey is as important as the destination. Key to this is really listening to feedback and making sure you learn from it. Think about the actions you will take following your sports coach giving you constructive feedback.
We all make mistakes, we all have down-days. But taking responsibility for your actions is one of the most important factors in redeeming yourself. If you want to gain respect from others, and to improve as an athlete, then allowing yourself to be vulnerable and honest is important.
Taking ownership of your own shortcomings is important, since it allows you to learn and improve from this, rather than placing the blame elsewhere.
Be open to learning
In sports psychology, we learn how important it is to be open to new ideas and techniques is a positive step. It allows us to enjoy new experiences, considering different approaches and techniques. Be willing to learn about new ways of working – it is part of our natural progression and should be practised at the highest level.
As any sports coach or elite athlete will tell you – never giving up is key to success. It is this steely determination and ability to see through the difficult days that will serve you well. It also shows passion for your sport, this in turn makes you a very coachable athlete. Be the person you would want to coach.
Be conscious of your actions
Being aware of your own thoughts, behaviours and emotions is always important in sport. Especially when you play in a team, knowing that your actions can have a knock-on effect shows a certain maturity. Look at your favourite football, cricket or rugby team and see who their Captain is. Usually it’s not the ‘oldest’ player, but the one who demonstrates the greatest care and dedication and sense of maturity. They are in effect, the best team players and role models.
Role model behaviour
As briefly touched on, being a role model is what makes you a coachable athlete. The ability to demonstrate positive behaviour to other players, makes you a desirable athlete that everyone will want to work with, and look up to. Think of the behaviours you can exhibit that are in keeping with role models. This might be good time keeping, listening to others feedback, supporting junior team members, sharing personal experiences, or acting as a mentor.
A key trait that a coachable athlete display is willingness. This means being open to challenge and pushing yourself to your limits. There is no room for complacency or laziness. The very best athletes know that they need to push themselves – and each other. They take on challenges with excitement, they are aware of their abilities and how they can stretch them. Simply put, they are willing to step outside their comfort zone, and in doing so, they achieve feats never before achieved.
Strive for better
Mental preparation is part of the coachable athlete’s package. Those who are mentally prepared and ready for any challenge, are often those that can conquer them. This starts with a positive mindset and extends to be a dedicated athlete that is willing to strive for improvement. This doesn’t mean being self-critical, it simply means that the athlete believes that more can always be achieved. That records are there to be broken, and that by dreaming big, we can achieve big.
It takes a lot to dedicate yourself to a sport; passion, dedication and a belief in your own abilities. But it also takes the right mix of a positive attitude and interpersonal skills to be the best. And why not strive for the best? If you want to be a coachable athlete, and reach to the top, then these are just a few of the ways in which you can up your game and lead from the top. After all, who knows where it may take you!?
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