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Basketball on the Edge – 7 Tips for Accepting Criticism and Being More Coachable

As a young player it is very important to develop a growth mindset and learn to accept coaching. Players must have an open mind and understand that they have not yet reached their full potential. Young players especially must be willing to listen and accept the information that their coach tries to pass on to them during practices and games. Great players are like a sponge. They want to be coached and they soak up knowledge that will help them improve as a player. Here are some tips for your young player about how to be more coachable and accept criticism in a way that will help them get better.


1. Listen respectfully.
When your coach is talking (or maybe even yelling in some cases) they are trying to teach you about the game of basketball. Look them in the eye and nod so they know that you are listening. This is not the time to argue. It is easy to get upset and focus on the negative. Instead, look at the positive. Your coach is taking time to help you get better. If they didn’t care about making you better they would just let your mistakes go and not say anything. Is that what you want? Not if you are a player that wants to improve. Make sure you display a positive attitude through your facial expressions and body language. Finally, make a mental note of the coach’s point and commit to fixing your mistake the next time you have the opportunity.


2. Make sure you understand.
I tell every player I work with to ask questions if they don’t understand something I am teaching. If your coach explains your mistake or tells you what to do next and you’re not sure what they mean, ask! Asking great questions is a skill that translates to all areas of your life, not just sports. You’ll learn more and be more successful if you learn to ask the right questions. Becoming more coachable means understanding what your coach expects. Make sure you understand their criticism and how it can make you better.

3. Recognize the Coach’s Point of View.
Accept the fact that the coach may see something that you don’t. Even if you don’t agree with the criticism, your coach may be seeing something that you aren’t even aware of. If they say that you are not following through on your shot, and you feel that you are, well; maybe you aren’t and you just don’t see it. Allow for the fact that your coach may be right, and use that possibility to look inside yourself. Why is the coach criticizing you or pointing out your mistake? Is it to make you feel bad? To put you down? Let’s assume most coaches are above that. In most cases the coach is trying to help YOU become a better player. Criticism can be hard to hear, but would you respect your coach if he or she did not address mistakes to help the team and individual players improve ? The key to accepting criticism is to see the coach’s goal in offering it. No one is perfect, and the coach who is taking time to point out a flaw obviously must care about you and your team. Respect the coach’s position and duty in coaching you, no matter how difficult it may seem at first.

4. Don’t be Defensive.
You may be embarrassed and sometimes feel guilty or ashamed when your coach notices a mistake you have made. It can be difficult to come across as a player who can accept constructive criticism. Being open to learning and growing is a desirable characteristic both as an athlete and later in life. Don’t go into defense mode just for the sake of appearing right—or even perfect. No one has ever played a perfect game. Learning requires making mistakes. Even the greatest players in the game have coaches. So do business leaders and other successful people from all walks of life. They need coaches to help them reach their full potential. Don’t waste an opportunity to learn from your coach by being defensive. It helps to realize that you have a valuable opportunity to learn from what your coach is saying and become a better player and teammate. Try to maintain a humble but positive outlook that will make it easy for you to be coached and improve your skills.


5. Follow up with Corrective Action.
After accepting coaching graciously, take the responsibility for making changes that will help you and the team improve. Some players will pretend to accept criticism, but then fail to make the necessary adjustments. The next time you are given the opportunity, put the coach’s advice into action as best you can. If you were told to close out on a shooter with your hands up, make sure you do that at every opportunity going forward. Demonstrate to your coach that you were listening and willing to do what you were asked. Following up with corrective action will show your coach that you know how to accept criticism and can actually put it to good use, which will enhance your skills and improve your team.


6. Turn every criticism into a productive opportunity to do things better.
Be thankful your coach has shown you your weaknesses and has provided you with a chance to improve and succeed. If you can remain cool and calm when faced with criticism you will learn to hear what is being said and apply it out on the court. Start to view coaching and criticism as a tool to improve as a basketball player rather than as a coach picking on you or being mean. It’s time to worry when your coach no longer corrects your mistakes. A coach who cares is one who corrects!


7. Take Some Initiative.
Why wait for your coach to offer criticism or suggestions on how to improve? You can ask your coach for advice or suggestions to help you play better or avoid making the same mistakes. The only dumb question is the unasked one. Let your coach know if you need help or are struggling with a particular aspect of your game. Most coaches are more than willing to provide assistance or answer questions to help you become a better player. Then be willing to take that information and incorporate it into your game. Your coach will be impressed and you’ll be on your way to improving as a basketball player.
Being able to accept the advice of your coach is a sure sign of an open mind and cooperative spirit. Accepting constructive criticism can make you a better player and a better teammate. Developing the ability to take criticism and learn from it will be a skill that young players can use effectively long after their playing career is finished.

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