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From the Coach’s Desk: How to be a Coachable Athlete

Erma Bombeck once said, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left but could say I've used everything you gave me.”


To say that we use every talent that God has given us entails much more than natural athletic ability when we are looking at what makes a successful athlete and a successful team. Using our talents involves our physical ability, our intellect, our morality, and our social structure as a team. It also entails more than natural athletic aptitude when we look at what makes a coachable athlete. 


What Makes a Coachable Athlete? 

Unfortunately, naturally athletic kids don’t always give a hundred percent because they think they can get away with giving minimal effort or by giving just eighty percent. Having a natural athletic gift is almost always seen as a positive. Often though, the most coachable athletes are the ones that work harder for their ability than the ones where it comes naturally to them.

The most successful teams are inclusive of those athletes that walk in the gym every single day wanting to be better— striving for feedback and listening intently to whatever constructive criticism is given. That deep desire for growth matters more than anything while looking for the coach’s guidance to be their best. Athletes must be able to see feedback as instrumental for personal improvement and know that their coach is sharing due to the desire for that athlete to excel.

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The other element of becoming a coachable athlete is intellectually knowing that it isn’t about that individual player’s statistics. It is about cheering on the sidelines and unifying a larger group of athletes who are all at different skill levels to become the best that the team can be as a whole. Sometimes that involves playing a spot that isn’t your preferred position because the coach needs your particular skill set there. Athletes know that they have to do physically hard things, but the great ones know that they often have to do emotionally hard things as well. 

Integrity Takes the Win 

Of course, the weight of the success and coachability of the players and the team isn’t all on the athletes. The coach must always have the best intent for the players and the team as well, and that brings integrity into the conversation. At a faith-based school with abundant championship teams, integrity in sports is looked at through a more comprehensive lens.


For example, in volleyball, the balls are hit very fast, and very hard. Sometimes that last touch is imperceivable such as glazing the ball with a fingernail — but the call is point dependent. What is commonly taught is that if you touch it and no one sees it, you should not make eye contact with the referee and you should not make any expression on your face so that no one will know. But as a coach and a Christian, you really have to weigh the implications. If you encourage that with players, you are teaching young people who are developing as humans, that it is all right to lie. A coach loses credibility, and players lose the opportunity for integrity as well.

For those reasons, it was decided that in the volleyball program at Mount Paran Christian School, the expectation would be set early on that players would call their own touches. This way, the player learns integrity in their own calls, which in turns helps each player trust each other—as well as the coaches, as they advance through their years as students and athletes.

Integrity + Coachability 


Always lead with a Christ-like image. Coaches should train their team to always tell the truth, even if no one sees. When this expectation is there, integrity starts coming through in the athlete. 

When that type of integrity starts to become a habit at game time, trust is earned — where everyone including the coach and the referees start believing the players because they know the integrity involved. If players tell the truth in game-critical situations, they are setting the example for others on the team and in their peer relationships. Even when that type of integrity is not reciprocated, the athlete should not worry, but continue to do what's right regardless of the outcome. When you have a team where integrity is a part of every play, when they win that Championship ring, they know that they have earned it truthfully. And that means everything.

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Integrity is the key ingredient for becoming a coachable athlete. Everything trickles down from this concept. An athlete’s work ethic, desire to consistently train outside of practice, and drive to improve with humility, are all outcomes of integrity and character. Players who respectfully listen and take instruction to heart are coachable. Players who build teammates up even on their worse days are coachable. Being coachable is putting the team before themselves while working to be the best they can be for the benefit of the success of the team.

Even if it sacrifices the point or the win, an athlete that chooses what is right will win in the eyes of God, and their teammates.


Audience of One

We are called as Christians to devote every part of our lives to Him, and in doing so, we realize that He is really our only audience. That audience of One is the most important, the most central audience. 

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. —Colossians 3:23-24


When playing or coaching competitive sports, we are still serving Christ. However, sometimes living out our lives in a Christ-like manner seems counterintuitive to winning. But it isn't. Because if we care the most about how God is going to respond to what we're doing on the court or the field, then we have already won. 

Selina Chancy is the head varsity volleyball coach and a high school English teacher at MPCS. During her time coaching volleyball, the Lady Eagles have won more than 400 games and have earned the following titles: 4-time State Champions and Cobb County Champions (2018, 2021, 2022, and 2023), State Runner-up in 2017, and 7-time Area/Region Champions. Coach Chancy was named the A/AA Private Coach of the Year in 2018 and the MDJ Coach of the Year in 2018 and 2021.
Molly Lathem is the Assistant Director of Communications at MPCS. 
To learn more about MPC championship athletics, click here. 


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Providing academic excellence in a Christ-centered environment, Mount Paran Christian School unites with home and church to prepare servant-leaders to honor God, love others, and walk in Truth.