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Successful Basketball Players are Coachable

November 15, 2017


I follow a lot of recruiting throughout the country and one word that is often thrown around is the word '"coachable'". I got that label as a younger player and I took it as a compliment. Problem was I didn't really understand what it meant in relation to my skills as a basketball player. Is being a coachable player a skill? Of course it is and let's discuss why. First, let's go into what being coachable is and go from there.


A coachable player is one that is willing to take constructive criticism in any form and learn from it. Coachable players want to improve and understand that when they are being coached it is for their own good and for the good of the team.


A coachable player is willing to sacrifice personal stats or goals for team goals. Is that the type of player you are? Or are you the type of player that goes straight to the scorers book after the game to see how many points you got? Are you the player that never passes the ball like I was when I was younger? Let me touch on this also. As a youth player most of the plays were designed to go to me. I may have averaged 35-40 points a game, but my teams lost most of the time. I call it great for the parents, bad for everyone else. My dad was happy but nobody else was.


I'm going to address this on a high school level as I think that is when this issue becomes very important. I'll start this off with a story from my sophomore year of high school. I played for a very good high school program in Utah for a coach that had won two state titles in the previous 4 years. Some excellent point guards had gone through the school. When I got there, they had the returning starter coming back at point guard and the shooting guard also. I was very small weight wise and honestly wasn't experienced enough to handle a starting varsity position at the time. I understood this completely.


My coach had many great talks with me about what my role was and I understood and agreed with him. I wanted what was best for the team as we were rated as one of the top 3 teams in the state that year and had some great players. I knew my time would come and that I honestly wasn't ready to play varsity level point guard. I think you all know where I'm going with this. Parents play a different role. They usually will try to tell you how much better you are than everyone else and that you should be playing more. Now parents aren't always wrong, but they often can't see it for what it really is because of their love and admiration you.


I ended up moving from that program as a result of some parents, including mine, who were trying to get the coach removed from his job. That coach passed away recently and I never took the opportunity to tell him how much I respected him as a man and a coach before he died. The point is that a truly coachable player is able to separate the real from the fantasy. My situation was I was 6th man on a team that played in the state semifinals that season. The fantasy was that I should've been the starting point guard without doing anything to justify it. The next season I was able to start at point guard and was completely ready to handle it.


I apologize for going on at great length in that last paragraph but this is a major issue in high school athletics. If you want to be a player that has aspirations of playing at the next level or the NBA level then meet with your coach constantly and let him know of your dreams and hopes right away. Establish a line of communication that is real so that you can be given those opportunities.

My coach would let me stay after practice as long as I wanted. He would take time after practice and work with me one on one. He gave me resources that weren't there for the other kids because I asked for them. Scholarships aren't going to the kids who aren't playing in the summer or to the kids who don't pick up a ball until tryouts. No chance. Scholarships go to the kids who put in the work and realize that the best players play on any team. Be the player that nobody can question or ask 'why is that kid out there'. One of the best conversations I ever had with that coach was when I told him how I needed or wanted to be handled.


I wanted to be treated with no kid gloves and know that he could push me as hard as he wanted and I would be fine. Most of the time kids are afraid to have this type of communication with their coach but I think it is what every kid should do or every coach should do with each player. Expectations on both sides need to be given so that every person knows their role.


My favorite school is the University of Illinois. I was never good enough to play in the Big Ten, but if any of you watched them play a few years back when they went to the National Championship you truly saw a team of coachable players that were willing to sacrifice in any possible to get the job done. They sacrificed enough that all 5 starters from that team were in the NBA this year. Coachability is a trait that all coaches want and love.

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