The Coachable Athlete

by Florida Soccer Life

The best thing we can do for kids believe it or not is to not teach them how to always be successful but to teach them how to respond when they are not successful. This valuable lesson that they learn at such a young age will carry them through life. What better way to learn this lesson than on the field, with teammates and a coach to help guide them through this.

This teachable moment makes them a coachable athlete who will prosper in every aspect in life. Think about it…it’s one thing to learn how to walk, talk and how to not cry over spilled milk but it’s another to learn the aspect of a sport with your teammates guided by your coach. While you may “mess up” you have to deal with that in front of your peers and overcome all of the emotions that follow. Are you able to roll with the punches? Are you able to handle the coach correcting you in front of your team? Do you know how to listen to constructive criticism, or do you talk back with excuses? Every kid should know how to lose with sportsmanship and win with grace.

Becoming a coachable athlete starts at a very young age. Ask yourself this, are you the athlete that listens to your parents over your coach? Are you the parent that coaches OVER your child’s coach? Unfortunately, your parental coaching is forcing your kid to now make the difficult decision of listening to their parent or their coach. Either way, they are in the wrong by either side and that is not fair to put your kid in that predicament. Especially at a young age. I learned real fast that my side line coaching was not helping my kiddo at all after my kid turned around during a game and said “stop mom!!! That’s not what coach instructed me to do!” Was my guidance correct by telling them to get wide and put her heals on the line to open up and receive the ball? “Yes” but what I didn’t realize is while that was “good advice” for any given game….in that game the coach was teaching them a specific tactic. You see, when they are young they are learning many technical and tactical skills. It’s not about winning or losing and I was creating a monster of all about the win and not about the baby steps of learning….making my kid a non-coachable athlete. My heart sunk but I realized that I need to be the supportive parent, the cheerleader and not the coach.

It was two seasons after that moment that I witnessed a coach cut a kid at the ripe age of 10 because they were not coachable. WHAT?!? 10 years old??? Yes. It was a competitive team, not rec and this kid was already not coachable. This kid, unfortunately, thought they knew it all, listened to their parents and not the coach and was not a team player. They already only thought about themselves, and only cared about winning and not growing and while they were one of the best players on the team, they, unfortunately, had a bad attitude. This was a life lesson not only for that kid but for their peers to realize that talent can only go so far. Talent in every aspect in life will only take you so far but a good attitude will always stand out more than your achievements in life.

Coachability means investing yourself in the team and committing to its overall success. It’s ALWAYS about the greater good of the TEAM. Absolutely invest in yourself because you are an individual contributor to the team's ultimate goal. But never become foolish enough to believe you matter more than the team.

Some sports outside of soccer are individual sports like swimming or golf so being coachable goes beyond the team aspect. Some signs of a coachable athlete are that you are growth-oriented, willing to be vulnerable, and try new things. You are open to change and eager to learn. Being coachable means you are action-oriented and self-aware. You understand that your coach sees things about you that you may not see yourself. Being coachable is a great asset in life because you are mature enough to realize that being “picked on” means that the person “picking on you” is actually trying to help you grow in that skill, mindset, or as a whole package.

Learning all of these valuable lessons will carry into life. Learning how to deal with a difficult teammate helps you learn how to work side by side with a difficult employee one day. That strict coach you play for will be the boss you work for in the future. Waking up early for a 6 am run or powering through a training session that should have ended 30 minutes ago helps you understand you are bettering yourself to accomplish that specific goal you are about to achieve because you put in the work to get you there.

Being the most talented player on the team or in your school doesn’t matter if you are an un-coachable one. The coachable player that works hard and values the skills their coach is teaching them will overshadow the skilled player in the future, every time.

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