The word “Potential” is really an insult in disguise. It’s only used when someone isn’t achieving what they could. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard someone talk about Kobe Bryant or Tom Brady’s potential? I wouldn’t say it’s never happened, but it’s probably been a while. Why? Because for the most part they are achieving their potential.

Now think about the last time you heard someone use that word. What were they talking about? Was it used in conjunction with how great someone of something was? Probably not. It was more likely used to avoid directly saying something stunk. Coaches occasionally use it in a more neutral way when talking about a young athlete, but more often use the word when an athlete is struggling.

It kind of reminds me of a southern lady saying “bless her heart” after talking about someone because it helps cover up what is actually meant.

0 responses to “Potential”

  1. I have to heartily disagree. I talk to kids (and their parents) about their potential all the time. I have talked to many ‘shorter’ females thinking about going to college to explain the potential they have to be good college cheerleaders on coed squads. Many mini age parents about their childs potential to be great in cheerleading because of natural athletic ability. I have even discussed it with adults.

    And, I have never used it to cover up an athletes weaknesses. I was speaking to someone yesterday on our open squad. I told him his tumbling was not as good as I wanted. I did say the difference is he had the potential to be very good. Physically he had all the right characteristics to be very good at tumbling, but he had to work. To which I also told him I am not telling this to everyone… because not everyone has the potential to be better than they currently are. Knowing he was not up to par was about using the right ways to communicate (never attack the person, just their actions… his tumbling, not him as a person) and presenting the challenge to him. He may go work and become the tumbler he can… or he may not. But I have done my job to let him know where he is and what he has the ability to eventually accomplish.

    A great coach notices when someone has untapped potential that an individual may never knew they had. As equally when someone is maxing out their capability.

    • I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say someone had potential followed by how they reached it. It’s always been followed by how they haven’t achieved it. From that point of view the word doesn’t come across as a compliment, but often the beginning of something negative.