What’s the most important skill you can have in the gym? It’s not a gymnastics kip or a handstand walk or speed under the bar… It’s coachability. Coaches are an endless wealth of information. No one coach is an expert on all subjects, but within each coach lies many a cue or instruction or bit of insight you have yet to learn. Being coachable allows you to tap into this information and these learning opportunities and allows you to grow, learn, and perform to the highest level. In order to be coachable, you must be ready to change while listening to feedback, receiving constructive criticism (without taking it personally), and generally being an enthusiastic go-getter. Sound like something you’d like to be? Read on for the 10 Commandments of Coachability:

1. Thou shalt be respectful.
To the coaches, your classmates, your teammates, and the gym itself. The end.

2. Thou shall be humble.
I have been doing CrossFit since 2008 and there still is not a day that I don’t walk into the gym and learn something new. Every workout and every coach has something to offer you. Being a know-it-all will prevent you from absorbing all the wonderful information and experiences around you. Put the ego away, get over yourself, pay attention, and become a sponge.

3. Thou shall have courage.
Change is scary. But you won’t grow as an athlete if you don’t try new things.

4. Thou shall have ambition.
You have to want it (and work for it) in order to get it.

5. Thou shall have confidence.
…but thou shall not be arrogant. Believe that you can achieve your goals, know your abilities, and have faith that you can improve; but always be open to something new.

6. Thou shall goals in the long-term.
“Rome was not built in a day” and nor was a 600 lb. dead lift. There is nothing wrong with having short-term goals, however, do not look for easy ways out and do not expect quick fixes. Your body may not adapt overnight, but if you work hard and push yourself, over time you will find that you can do more than you ever dreamed you could.

7. Thou shall be form-centric.
“Anything worth doing is worth doing right.” Not every rep needs to be perfect, but never completely through form out the window. Doing things the right way will save you time, energy, and trips to the orthopedic.

8. Thou shall be an active listener.
If a coach gives you feedback and you don’t quite understand what s/he is saying, ask questions. Understanding the movement is essential to performing it correctly and coaches love when you communicate in a relevant, thoughtful, and respectful manner. Arguing, back-talking, interrupting, or otherwise carrying on in a disrespectful way (see Commandment 1) will delay or even halt your progress.

9. Thou shall maintain thou temple.
“Your body is a temple” and you only get one so, eat your vegetables, do your stretches, get enough sleep, drink lots of water… you know the drill. Quit making excuses and just do it.

10. Thou shall be a beacon of positivity.
The gym is a happy, welcoming, supportive place. Smile while you work and be kind to others. Not every day has to be a good day, but no one wants to work with a perpetual Negative Nancy.

People are drawn to positive, humble hard-workers. Practice the above principles and watch yourself not only grow as an athlete, but as a person — happier, healthier, more confident, and above all, successful.

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