Generally when an athlete comes to me they will have an idea of what those strengths and weaknesses are, and this will obviously help us shape what we are doing in training. This is absolutely a great start to developing the ultimate athlete, however there is still often a large piece of information missing. You know what you think of your game… but what does your coach think of your game?
Sport coaches evidently play a HUGE part in the development of an athlete. So why are you not asking them for feedback? This is a person who watches you play, watches you practice and watches how you are able to contribute to the team. This is an outside perspective with (hopefully) massive amounts of knowledge in the sport you are hoping to excel in. Why would you not be seeking their thoughts on where you could improve to help bring your game to the next level?
What I find is often a road block for athletes (sometimes subconsciously) in seeking feedback from their sport coaches is ego. They don’t want to be told what they do poorly because it doesn’t feel good. Sometimes you are going to be told something you do not want to hear. However, the athletes that can hear criticism from a coach, take it as constructive and apply it… Those are the athletes we can truly build to that ultimate level.
What I will often hear when athletes are talking about criticism they receive from sport coaches is that the coaches are “biased” or the coaches are giving opportunities to athletes that deserve it less than they do for some reason and they have NO idea why. Even if you disagree with your coaches’ decisions sometimes, or you don’t understand why they have made certain decisions, there is one thing that never changes… Coaches want to WIN. This means that if they “played that guy instead of you” for some reason… there is something they saw in “that guy” that made them more deserving of the opportunity.
Now you have two choices. You can bitch and moan about the fact that someone else was given an opportunity over you, or… and I know this is a crazy thought… you can ask the coach what you can do to get more opportunities.
Every coach loves an athlete that wants to improve. If you talk to your coach and ask what you need to do to get into the game more often and you approach the topic respectfully and professionally, good things will happen. Take the advice and start applying it! Learn what your coach wants to see from you, and what you can do to achieve it.
An important thing to remember is that you may not like what you hear. Your coach may see a weakness in your game where you see a strength. Even if you don’t like what you hear, take a step back. Take an honest look at your game and start putting in the work to improve. It is sometimes a tough pill to swallow being told that you don’t do something as well as you thought you did, but adversity is part of being an athlete. You make it to the top by learning from the adversity you face and putting in the work to overcome it. Not by sitting back and claiming that people are “biased against you” because they don’t see you as the all-star that you know you are.
I hope you have stuck with me this long through the blog, and if you have then thank you! I know that it is not easy to accept feedback sometimes. This is something I struggle with to this day. However the more you can learn to put your ego in check and understand that EVERYONE still has work to do (and then go out and actually do that work) I truly believe you will exceed your wildest expectations in your athletic career.
So to sum it up, if you want to get more opportunities in your athletic career;
Talk to your coaches: Ask them what they need to see from you in order for you to get the opportunities you’re after
Check your damn ego: Your coach is making decisions in the best interest of the team. You may not agree with the decisions sometimes, but be humble, trust the process and keep working. If you’re not playing, there might be a reason for it.
Work: Simple. Coaches want players who work hard. This doesn’t mean just showing up to the workouts and practices. Be the hardest working guy there. Be a leader. Help the other players on the team re-focus when needed. If you show every day you are here to help the team get better, this is going to start translating to playing time.
Thanks for reading! It is my ultimate goal to change the lives of athletes. I understand the instinct to make excuses and to try to make things easy for yourself… but the moment you can start living with the uncomfortable feelings and honestly evaluating your abilities in sport is the moment you start winning!