What makes a player coachable?

What makes a player coachable? By Gareth Doolan

As a rugby coach the single greatest character trait that a player can have in my opinion is coachability. Being coachable as a player means being grateful that your coach cares enough to push you to a place you have not been before. 

What can you do to be coachable? I will endeavour to give insight into 5 traits that I feel makes a player more coachable. 

Respect – First & foremost is always being on time for practices and matches. Being on time as a member of a team shows you care about your teammates/coaches and that you value their time. It should go without saying that if you are going to be late for any reason or cannot make a training session you should let your coaches know. 

Energy and Positivity – Always arrive at practice with as much energy and positivity as possible. Your coach cannot always be responsible for bringing energy and positivity to the team. A negative player who arrives at practice with low energy and negativity is like a cancer that can infect the team and will bring the team down. The same applies to being positive, it is infectious and your teammates will pick up on it. As a player ask yourself before, during and after practice how can I influence myself and the team in a positive way, if you can do this on a regular basis you have won more than half the battle.

Body Language – Many coaches at all levels of sport place a premium on body language because they know that bad body language can telegraph negativity which can be cancerous to the culture that a team is trying to build. Players who display bad body language can affect the mood of other players. If you are doing all you can to bring energy and positivity to practice or a match then you won’t need to worry about bad body language as your positive body language will be evident for everyone to see.

Taking Constructive Criticism – All sports are filled with mental and social challenges. Having a healthy coach-player dynamic is at the very heart of any successful team, it will come as no surprise that it is the most difficult team dynamic to master for a coach. It is human nature to feel hard done by and to take criticism personally. As a player being able to take advice and constructive criticism from your coach and teammates is vitally important. Always remember that ultimately your coach wants you to grow, improve and succeed on the field. If a coach shares constructive criticism with you it means that they care and want you to improve, try not to take it personally. By taking constructive criticism it will allow you to see things in a different light which will ultimately help you grow and improve which is what we all want. 

Ask for feedback from your coach – It is important to understand that your coach is human and cannot be in tune with every player in the team at all times. If you need to clarify something with your coach that is bugging you then do so. Very often players will rather whine to their teammates or not commit fully to the team. This is NOT the solution. In truth this is detrimental to yourself, the team and will affect the ability of the coach to train and improve you. 

I hope that whether you are a player or a parent that the information above is helpful. If you are a parent, try encourage your child to work with his/her coach and follow the points above. I can promise you that a player who does that will gain much more from their sports environment than a player who tries to swim upstream.

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