Coachability or Coach Ability

I guess this is kinda a Nature/Nurture debate again. Over the last few weeks I had reason to be engaged in a conversation about factors that influence an athletes progression, (Biosocioeconomic-see I was listening :o). One of the ideas that came up was that of Coachability. There was then some confusion if we ment the  ability of the athlete to take instruction or the ability of the coach to impart that instruction.

It got me thinking (something I may never forgive Sports Coach UK Aspire program for btw) if, as is the case, I believe that Talent is just a word we use because we can’t think of a better one, then is there such a thing as coachability??

I was reminded of a book by John Wooden called ‘if they haven’t learnt then you haven’t taught’ and it made me think that maybe the more appropriate terminology would be Coach Ability. I know I have had swimmers who simply couldn’t pick up on a skill we were working on, and equally some who grasped it immediately. On the face of it this could be interpreted as the scale of their coachability. However, in my more fuctional reflection, is it more accurate to say that those athletes who struggled to grasp the intended skill simply have a different way on taking on board information and that I, as the coach, failed to find the correct way. Equally, and I have done no research on this at all, could it be that those who immediately grasped what I wanted simply learnt in a similar way to me – that our styles meshed to better effect.


Or to put it simply, the coach ability was not of a high enough standard to allow every athlete to achieve their potential.

If, and it is a big IF, this is the case and I apply myself to improving my ability then over the years more of my athletes should experience success in skill aquisition and their ability to achieve their fullest potential.

Time spent honing the abilities as a coach, the ‘soft skills’, is crucial to becoming a ‘master coach’, a coach who, through years of experience knows as if instinctively what needs to be worked on, what needs to be said, when and how to say it.

I think that I may have evolved as a coach since 18 months ago those soft skills were things that I put at the bottom of the pile when listing what  wanted to concentrate on…….again…….thanks Sports Coach UK 😠😠😠


One thought on “Coachability or Coach Ability”

  1. The social context of learning is taken into account by Bredo’s final classification that of Situated (socio-cultural) learning .This theory builds on the Constructivist theory but emphasises that learning occurs in a dynamic relationship between the individual and the environment. Therefore the social context of learning shifts from the individual to a group situation. We are able to learn with and from others who bring different knowledge understanding and skill to the learning environment. Anderson (1998:68) states “… it encourages learners’ to be active in their learning and to determine its direction. It make learning more purposeful and self-directed

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