“Uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. Let your kid get used to somebody being tough on them. That’s life, get over it!” – Patrick Murphy, Alabama Softball

This quote resonates with many coaches, parents other adults. All coaches at one point have probably struggled with a child who was simply uncoachable. These were the kids who refused to take orders, disrespected authority and ignored all the good advice that was offered to them.

Don’t confuse being uncoachable as a child who still did not improve their game no matter how hard the coach worked to train them. Being uncoachable has very little to do with athletic skill. This is why uncoachable kids are often such a great disappointment and a reason for concern. It has more to do with attitude than it does with skill and their performance at games or practices. In fact, skilled athletes can be considered uncoachable particularly if they believe so much in their abilities that they refuse to let anyone dictate how they should perform. Even the most skilled players can be rude, lack focus, and not work well with their teammates.

As adults, we all know someone who just couldn’t hold a job. They didn’t work well with their colleagues and preferred to go at it alone to perhaps take all the credit for themselves. They may have lacked focus, didn’t manage their time well, or were altogether lazy. And they most likely had problems taking direction from their supervisor.

Sound familiar?

The chances are that this adult had issues with authority even as a child. They didn’t work well with others. They were stubborn or resented the fact that someone told them what to do and how to do it.

Parents often worry about how their child’s coach may be too hard on them. Coaches are known to bark orders, get overly excited, and maybe even humiliate players in front of their teammates.

Their enthusiasm can easily be mistaken as aggression. However, coaches who are tough on their kids are coaches eager to see their athletes improve – not just for the win but for the child to develop in both life and sports.

A child or parent who takes this tough love to personally and decides to quit or transfer to another team with a less “aggressive” coach may be missing out on the valuable lessons that will toughen up their child for life in the the real world – the life they will have long after they leave the field and stop playing the sport.

Of course, there truly are mean coaches out there, and parents and young athletes need to recognize the difference between cruel coaching and tough love. The same can be said about uncoachable kids; some children are uncoachable for valid reasons and a specialist can diagnose why.

Are you the parent of what appears to be a young athlete who opposes authority, refuses to comply with rules you know they understand or does not get along with a team? Maybe time in a sport they love with a coach who will teach them to respect authority, discipline, teamwork, time management, hard work, and other skills they need to be someday employable is exactly what they need.