November 2021 Administrative Update
by: Chris Koselny
Director of Athletics
The Greatest Ability in Sports
As an individual immersed in sports for essentially my entire life, I have heard numerous conversations regarding “the greatest ability” in sports. I have witnessed this discussion between adults, teens, and even younger student-athletes who aspire to be exceptional at their chosen sport. The conversation often revolves around the comparison of different physical abilities required of various sports. Which is more difficult, dribbling a soccer ball, or dribbling a basketball? Does a football player possess greater athletic ability than a hockey player does? And so on...
All of this friendly, competitive banter is great, but it does not address the authentic truth. The truth is the greatest abilities in sports are not physical abilities or skills at all. The greatest abilities in sports are availability, reliability, and coachability, and collectively these attributes will prove of great value in adulthood.
All coaches are looking for student-athletes who are readily available. Making oneself available is the first step in becoming a great teammate. Teammates who are available make teams complete. They do not have to be the most talented players or score the most goals; they just need to be available when called upon. In athletics, we teach the value of being available and its importance to those who rely on your presence. A team can function at a high level when it has a roster of student-athletes who are available when needed. This transitions into the professional world as well. A workplace can function at a high level with employees who are available. Availability is also a valuable contribution to relationships. Be available to your friends who you value. Availability is a crucial life skill.
Reliability is another great ability learned through sports. Can your team rely on you to fill the role you were assigned? By definition, reliability means “the quality of being trustworthy or of performing consistently well.” Student-athletes practice building trust and performing with consistency every day. This is essentially, what is done in daily practice. Yes, physical abilities are practiced every day, but all for the purpose of developing trustworthiness and consistent performance. Teams that develop trust and consistency accomplish great things. The athletes’ coaches trust most and who are most consistent, are the athletes relied upon in crucial moments. Every profession in the world seeks reliable employees who are able to perform well consistently. Our student-athletes learn this through sports.
Arguably, the most important ability in sports is coachability. Coachability is simply the capacity to accept constructive criticism and make changes as necessary. This is difficult for many student-athletes. Most participate on various travel and club teams in addition to their high school teams; often getting mixed messages about their performance and potential. The ability to adapt to the coach you are playing for at any given time is not easy, but essential. Coachability can be the foundation of a student-athlete’s success. For most, adjustments will be required to achieve high-performance. During the course of a lifetime, most people will work for someone who will require they follow procedures and processes to accomplish their job successfully. If we learn to adjust and adapt, or be coachable, as young student-athletes, more likely than not we will apply this ability to how we conduct our work as adults. Coachability, learned through sports, is essential as one moves on from athletics to the workplace.
The greatest abilities learned through sports are not the first things we typically consider when we think about our student-athletes. We focus on statistics, wins, losses, and what we see on the court or field. Instead of measuring the value of sports in personal accolades and scholarship money, consider a different perspective. Look beyond those aspects of sports and ask “Was I available when I was asked to be there? Was this student-athlete available? Was I reliable? Could they rely on me when needed? Was I able to rely on this person? Did I accept constructive criticism? Was I coachable? Was this student-athlete coachable?” Whether you are considering the answers for yourself, or someone else, if the answer to these questions is or was “yes”, then you got everything out of sports that you could ask for, and probably more.