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By Michael Balderstone, BSI Founder & Performance Director

One of the key attributes that all great champions have in common is something called Learnability. In fact this is true for all truly successful people in any walk of life.

Learnability consists of 2 factors:

  • An openness to learning
  • Actively seeking knowledge, mentors, and better ways of doing things









This is not a trait that a person is born with, like natural talent. Learnability is a choice that each person can only make for themselves.

Some success gurus call this trait Teachability, but the wording suggests external control. I believe that a person cannot be taught, they can only learn, through guidance from a coach or through experience.

Sir Clive Woodward describes learnability well, by putting people into 2 categories, ‘Rocks’ or ‘Sponges’. A sponge will soak up every drop of knowledge that will help them reach the top, while a rock will resist any new ideas, as they think they ‘know it all’, or are too scared to try.

We all need help along the way if we are to be truly successful. As a coach of elite players I often come across very talented ‘Rocks’. Unfortunately they hold themselves back until they choose to embrace the learning process. Some never do. The question to ask yourself is, are you a rock or a sponge? If you want to reach your true potential you must embrace learning, quit the ‘Rock’ mentality and choose to be a ‘Sponge’.