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  • Writer's pictureMaddy Brown

Coachability: A Prerequisite to Success

Something that’s been on my mind a lot lately is coachability…

One of my biggest frustrations is when I have to correct the same behavior for weeks, even months on end in lessons with the same rider due to carelessness or laziness on the rider’s part. I’ve had students’ parents be upset with me that their child hasn’t progressed or that every lesson looks “the same”. If I’m saying something over and over, it’s not to hear myself talk or to eat up time; it’s because the rider isn’t doing it.

If I’m constantly correcting a fundamental skill, the rider isn’t ready to move on to more technical things. I tell students who are chronic not-doers, I’m not very valuable to you if I have to spend every lesson endlessly reminding you about the exact same behaviors. I’m most valuable to you when you follow my instructions, try your best, practice on your own, and master this skill so we can move on to the next one. Would you rather we spend an hour twice a week every week with me saying “check your diagonal” or “close your fingers” or “heels down”, or would you rather we spend an hour twice a week every week working on new and exciting skills? If you’re a parent of a rider and you hear the trainer harping on the same behaviors for weeks on end, I implore you to talk with your rider about trying harder and listening better.

Riding is a big time mental game. So often, riders who struggle with confidence, whether too much or not enough, struggle to be present and try their hardest when the pressure is on. Overconfident riders lack focus and make careless mistakes. Insecure riders tend to quit before they’ve even started, developing a defeatist attitude that keeps them from trying their hardest and performing their best.

Coachable riders are focused, dedicated, driven, humble, and hard enough on themselves that they strive for progress but not so hard on themselves that they can’t see progress when it happens. They take their trainer’s corrections in stride and use them to make themselves better every day. Coachability is a trait that starts at home, grows with proper guidance, and is the key to attaining riders’ goals!

This lecture does not apply to students who don’t understand a concept, lack the muscle to complete a skill, don’t care to move up the levels/ride just for fun, are struggling with new concepts, are trying to break bad habits, etc etc etc. Any good trainer can tell the difference between a rider who is confused and a rider who is not trying!

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