Sunday, September 7, 2014

Why You May Seem Uncoachable

Derby takes talent, there's no question about that. As a skater, you have to have some body awareness, balance, and fitness to be successful in this sport, at any level. But really, talent is only half the battle. I've watched many a talented skater come to derby, thinking she could dominate, only to wash out after less than a year. What caused these talented skaters to bail on derby after such a short time? I've got one, made-up but accurate word for you: Uncoachable. Being uncoachable is pretty much the worst thing you can do in any sport; the second worst thing you can do is appear to be uncoachable.

How you appear to be uncoachable

1. You refuse to self evaluate. Yes, it sucks when you have to look at your strengths and weaknesses, and realize that your weaknesses outweigh your strengths. Believe it or not, this is pretty normal in just about any sport. The more time you spend practicing and perfecting your skills, the more you realize you don't know. It's ok to admit you aren't perfect; I know it's scary for a lot of skaters to admit that they have a weakness, but if you're not willing to look at your skills and figure out where you need to wood-shop, then how are you going to take feedback from a coach?

2. You're constantly defending yourself instead of listening to feedback. Instead of taking in feedback, you're all ready to drop an excuse to why you do or don't do the skill correctly. Everyone has off days, but most coaches can overlook those issues and concentrate on the trends they see with your skating. It's important to be aware of trends in your skating style, because those mean you have habits, both good and bad. Serious athletes want to reinforce the good habits, and repurpose those bad habits, but if you're just defending why you skate that way, you seem not to be interested in changing a bad habit. The coach can't know that in your mind you feel like you suck and you're just trying to protect your ego; all she can hear is how resistant you are to feedback, and eventually, she'll stop giving you any.

3. You don't look like you're listening. This is a hard one for me because I don't like to make direct eye contact for extended periods of time because I've been told I have "aggressive resting bitchy face" and my eye contact is a little intense. There are other ways you can look like you're not listening, such as crossed arms, turning away from the coach, rolling your eyes, staring over their shoulder or keeping a smirk on your face. Some of these responses happen automatically when we get defensive, but you can control some of them. When I find that I'm crossing my arms while someone is talking to me, I try to relax my body and drop any defensive postures I have. If you're sending out physical signs that you're not open to feedback, people will stop giving it to you and you won't get a chance to improve.
This is me respectfully disagreeing with a ref call. It's not subtle.

4. You ask for skills or drills to be modified for your specific needs instead of figuring out what you have to do differently to make the skills work. It's always funny, if I'm leading a training some place and a skater comes up and says something like 'Hard plows make my ankle hurt.' and then expectantly looking at me to change the drill. I never really know what to say when it comes to this kind of situation, other than. "Ok, do what you can." That ok, do what you can never seems to make the person feel better; sometimes, when they're very wrapped up in their issues, they'll actually ask if the drill can be different, for them. Honestly, nobody is going to do the same drills the same way, and you have to make anything you learn your own. I think people who want changes made to drills generally are afraid to fail, even if it's something little like learning a new skill.

5. You drop out of drills because you're frustrated. Frustration is a natural result of being challenged for most people, but when you're challenged and your first response is to sit down, or sulk, or take your skates off, you don't seem to be coachable.

You may not even realize what kind of vibes you're putting out to your team and your coaching staff.  Try to be more aware of the vibes you're throwing out there, before you're classified as .......uncoachable.


  1. 6. Debating/questioning the coach over the drill. " why are we doing this, I don't see how it helps" or " why don't we just do xxx "