If there’s one thing that frustrates coaches and drives them to distraction, it’s having an “un-coachable” rower. What’s an “un-coachable” rower? It’s that rower who feels that he is never wrong, that the coach is unfairly picking on them whenever any kind of critical or even constructive feedback is given and the rower who simply refuses to take any responsibility for his mistakes or failure.

Whenever the coach tries to provide this kind of athlete with any constructive feedback, even if it’s mild and necessary, the “un-coachable” rower becomes highly defended. If he doesn’t argue with the coach, they make it perfectly clear through posture, facial expression and voice tone that they think they’re right and the coach is wrong!

You can’t get better at anything unless you’re willing to look carefully at what you’ve done wrong. Your mistakes form the foundation of learning and developing as an athlete and a person. However, if you’re constantly unwilling to honestly look at yourself, then you will take from yourself the opportunity to really get better.

The athlete is in charge of the learning. The coach only facilitates the learning. If the coach creates an environment that does not promote learning, the rower shuts down. He or she doesn’t want to learn. The connection with the coach is broken, and then, the rower is labeled as un-coachable. In a lot of cases we, coaches, are the reason of an un-coachable kid. We don’t connect with him well enough.

In today’s society with cellphones, Ipad, text messaging, Facebook, Ipods, and the millions of websites out there, our kids and young adults’ attention and minds are being pulled from every conceivable direction. The pace of information is coming at them really fast.
When it comes to sports, we need to keep the practice and training session up-tempo. If the tempo is slow and boring, we lose the rowers focus and attention.

As the coach, you set the tone. You need to be enthusiastic and have a tremendous amount of energy. These kids will feed off you, the leader. And, you need to measure the results of the kids whenever you can. They need to know they are getting better.

How to Correct Obstacles to Learning

1) Constantly build the relationship with the athlete.
2) Move yourself out of your own comfort zone. When you are comfortable, you aren’t learning.
3) Do not avoid difficult conversations.
4) Allow mistakes.
5) Build trust.
6) Clarity.
7) Promote Responsibility.
8) Assessments.
9) I-Me should not be in your vocabulary.
10) Promote an environment that the athlete or athletes get 1% better every week.
11) Be a Facilitator.
12) Don’t be the “My Way or the Highway”

Thank you to Dr. G and Bill Mooney

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