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The coachable athlete

8 Oct 2023

What's the one thing Michael Jordan & Kevin Garnett have in common? Coachability. So what does it mean to be coachable?

Being coachable goes a long way toward an athlete’s development. Not only does it make YOU a better athlete it makes your team better and it improves your team culture.

So, what does it mean to be coachable?

Be aggressive: to learn

The coachable athlete maintains an attitude of a student, not an expert or a know-it-all. They recognise that they can get better by learning whatever they can, from whomever they can and from every experience. They are open to new concepts & ideas and allow themselves to be pushed out of their comfort zones.


Michael Jordan once said his best skill was to be coachable. It didn’t matter how much he knew, he wanted to know more. He described himself as a sponge & said he was aggressive to learn.


The truth: helps

The coachable athlete is open to critique and honest feedback. The truth can hurt but they understand that it’s not personal. They are aware of the greater purpose of feedback … that it creates space for improvement.


If a coach cares about your progress, they’ll nitpick every detail. Take it as a compliment. It means they believe in your capabilities.


Work hard & never give-up

The coachable athlete is on time, they’re prepared & give their all in every practise & game. They’re passionate, determined & work hard on their craft. They have a strong work ethic & put in the extra hours. 

Word about Kevin Garnett’s legendary work ethic got out after NBA general managers watched a private work out before the 1995 NBA draft. He quickly became known for his intensity, for never missing a practise & starting early even at informal workouts.

Garnett once said no matter how hard you work, there’s always someone, somewhere working harder than you. Guess what? I’m that someone.


It’s all about attitude

The coachable athlete uses good body language & has a positive mindset, even in a challenging situation. They’re a role model. They’re respectful & communicate effectively with coaches and teammates.


The UN-coachable athlete has terrible body language. They sit on the bench when everyone else is up and listening to the coach. They don’t pay attention. And when their teammates are not doing well, they throw their hands up.

So, ask yourself, how coachable are you?


Can parents help their athlete be more coachable?

One of the best ways to encourage coachability is to support their coach. If parents reinforce the importance of listening to coach feedback, they are encouraging the athlete to be open to feedback.

Ultimately a parent must be willing to trust the coach and realise the coach has their athlete’s best interest in mind. 


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