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  • Liz Ricapito

The Accountable Athlete

As a young athlete it’s hard to know what accountability means. Not sure if you’re accountable? Looking to improve you overall performance in school, sports and life? A big piece of accountability is responsibility. How responsible are you? The list of the 10 Things that Take Zero Talent is a good place to start to assess your level of accountability. Can you honestly critique your efforts in these areas? Consider how well do you do each one and see how you measure up.

10 Things that Take Zero Talent

1. Being on Time

2. Making an Effort

3. Being High Energy

4. Having a Positive Attitude

5. Being Passionate

6. Using Good Body Language

7. Being Coachable

8. Doing a Little Extra

9. Being Prepared

10. Having a Strong Work Ethic

1. Being on time is important. There’s a saying that if you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late. Get to practice before it starts. Don’t be the athlete jogging on to the field as everyone is already warming up.

2. Making an effort means trying during practices and games. Are you working hard all the time and giving 100%?

3. High Energy is demonstrated by encouraging others and running on and off the field…there is no walking! Do you run EVERY time to get on and off the field?

4. A positive attitude can be displayed by greeting your coaches by name, asking how they are doing and thanking them when practice or a game is over. Do you cheer on your teammates and encourage them when things go well and also when they don't?

5. To be passionate means you have a love for what you’re doing and enjoy doing it. Smile and have fun! Do you love being at practice? Does playing your sport bring you happiness all the time? Do you eat, sleep, and dream your sport?

6. Having good body language means no kicking the dirt, throwing equipment, or blaming the officials for bad calls. Athletes with good body language don’t sigh or mutter under their breath. No slumped shoulders or dragging feet. None of that is positive nor is it going to help things improve.

7. Being coachable is listening to what your coaches say and doing it! Do you accept feedback as meant to help you improve and not as a personal slight? Answering questions when asked and responding to what a coach is telling you with a “Yes, Coach!” are all examples of being coachable.

8. Staying after practice or working on skills outside of practice time are ways to do a little extra. How often do you put in extra time?

9. An athlete who is prepared is one who has all the necessary gear, is not playing on their phone during practice, and shows up ready to work. They are not goofing off or talking when a coach is speaking.

10. A strong work ethic means you put in effort all the time, not occasionally. You have the desire to work hard and you do what it is you said you would do consistently.

For athletes, actions speak louder than words. Walk the Talk. It’s really that simple. You can’t blame a teacher for the F, if you never completed the homework. It’s not the coaches’ or the officials’ fault, if you never put in the time outside of practice. And if you didn’t measure up, assess what happened and how can you change it next time. A little self-reflection goes a long way toward improving as a player and a person. An athlete that make excuses is not accountable.

In addition to behavior and attitude on the field, accountable athletes need to own their grades and manage time between sports and school. The off-season is the time to set habits so during the season you can focus on your sport and have fun. Consider how much more enjoyable playing your sport will be if you don’t have to struggle with falling grades, poor time management, or parents on your case. You set yourself and your team up for a successful season, and it all starts with holding oneself accountable.

“Accountability is essential to personal growth, as well as team growth. How can you improve if you’re never wrong? If you don’t admit a mistake and take responsibility for it, you’re bound to make the same one again.” -Pat Summitt, Legendary Tennessee Women’s Basketball Coach.

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