By Bo Hanson – 4x Olympian, Coaching Consultant & Director of Athlete Assessments

What is athlete accountability in sport? I recall having this conversation with my coach when I was rowing. Most coaches I speak to today tell me how their athletes do not accept accountability for their performance.

Ultimately, accountability in sport means you believe that it is you (and only you) who creates your performance.  From an athlete’s perspective, this can be for the on field and off field performance.  When you ask the question, “How did you go?” accountable athletes will most likely respond with a short answer. Essentially, they tell you their results. “I came first (second, fifth, etc)” whatever their actual result was.

In contrast, athletes who do not accept accountability in sport say things like, “Well, I did not have my best race today, because I was in the wrong lane, it was not my type of conditions, the other players did not do their job, the opposition got some unfair calls go their way,” and the list goes on.  These athletes make excuses.

Similarly with coaching, it is all too often a coach’s performance is judged on whether their contract is extended, or they are getting fired. Leaders in sport know, there is more to a Coach’s Performance than the Scoreboard alone. Find out how effective Coach Performance Reviews are vital to your team’s success! Click here to find out more now.

aWhat type of athletes do you coach? If you do not know whether your athletes take responsibility and hold themselves accountable for their results,  just ask them the question, “How did you go?”  And as their coach, how are you role modelling accountability and teaching your athletes to be accountable?

How do athletes (or anyone) learn to be accountable? Some suggest this is a character trait. Others, including myself, believe you can develop a mindset of accountability.

To enable athletes to learn how to accept accountability for their behaviors we must help them first become aware of their behaviors that create their sporting results. It is a well known fact, that an athlete can only change their behavior if they know what that behavior is and then have an alternative choice of behavior to do instead.

There are three steps to it:

  1. Understanding yourself – Self-awareness. Use the CoachDISC and AthleteDISC behavioral profile to develop self-awareness of the behaviors which create your sporting results (see below for more information). This is firstly, a self-assessment exercise. The results reveal how you see yourself. There is value in this first level assessment alone. The next level of assessment, is to have other people, your athlete’s team members or fellow athletes and you as their coach, to evaluate their behaviors in the context of their sport. This creates what we call an “Observer Perspective.” How others see you and how you can improve is enormously insightful. Knowing how others see you, enables you to have a holistic view of yourself and identify critical ways to improve.
  2. Use the CoachDISC or AthleteDISC profiles to identify behaviors to change so to improve. Make a plan to take action to create measurable results and monitor and evaluate your progress.
  3. If you are a coach, coach your athletes with an Athlete Centered Coaching philosophy. This means, coach them in a way, which enables the athlete to solve their own problems before you start making suggestions. Very basically, it means asking questions, instead of giving directions. To find out more about Athlete Centered Coaching, visit Athlete Assessments ( for other articles and videos.

Undertaking this type of AthleteDISC or CoachDISC assessment is not for everyone. Honestly, only athletes and coaches who want to embrace change and lever their performance to a new level actually use our range of assessments. This is both understandable and frustrating to me. When I competed, I was the type of athlete who left no stone uncovered to learn more about my strengths and limitations. When I did learn about these, I started winning most races I entered.

The most rewarding stage of my Olympic rowing career was the last three years. It took me a long time to fully learn what made me be my best. I did not have access to an AthleteDISC tool until I developed it in the final stages of my rowing career. I wish I had a tool like this early in my career, but sport was not into this in the early ‘90s. Today it is a different story. Athlete Assessments was created to enable athletes to learn how to accept accountability for their behaviors by helping them become aware of the behaviors which create their sporting results. Embrace this technology and reap the benefits. After all, you are a long time retired.

Want more information:

The key message of this article is that in sport, your behavior creates your results. If you want to truly take control of your results (and have accountability) you must first understand how and why you behave as you do (or for coaches, understand how and why your athletes behave as they do). This gives you self-awareness. Once you become self-aware, you can deliberately adapt your behavior to achieve your desired results.


Athlete Assessments’ behavioral profiles are all about understanding the drivers of coaches and athletes. The AthleteDISC and CoachDISC profiles use proven profiling techniques and based on decades of behavioral research and many years of top level sporting experience. After completing your questionnaire, which takes just 7-10 minutes, you receive an in depth 23-page personalized report. Your report analyzes your personal style, strengths and limitations and gives you tools and strategies you can start using straight away.


The AthleteDISC and CoachDISC profiles are suitable for athletes and coaches of ALL levels. They are directly relevant and beneficial for late-teens to get more out of social sport, student-athletes at college, players and coaches at representative level, through to Olympians aspiring to attain the ultimate sporting glory. The profiles are easy and convenient to use and all done online. It only costs about as much as a pair of sports shoes, and carries a money-back guarantee.

Take Action Now

Discover more information about the AthleteDISC profile for athletes and CoachDISC profile for coaches. Or contact us to find out how we can help you further develop your coaching.

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