While the title of this post is 'Impress your Coach' it could easily be 'Improve More' or 'Be a Better Athlete'. You see, coaches, especially if they're good, focus on the processes, not the results. And each of the suggestions below are processes that can help you improve in your sport.
Get there Early (and Get Ready)
Even if it's only five or ten minutes before training, spending that time warming up, foam rolling, stretching, working what your weakness or practicing that activity that you didn't quite nail in the last session will help improve your abilities or reduce your chance of injury.
Let's be clear here: it's not about that ONE time you do it. It's the accumulation of five minutes, before EVERY session that starts to add up over the preseason, over the season and into finals or championship time that you'll start to see the difference.
And that is when you'll need it the most!
The best coaches want engaged athletes, not submissive drones. If something doesn't quite make sense, or you want to understand it at a deeper level, ask for more information.
Understanding why your coach wants you to do something in a specific way, or why they want you to do a specific activity, will help you plan your time away from the coach.
If your coach asks a question, have a crack at the answer.
They are not trying to make you feel stupid nor catch you out; they are probably trying to gauge the depth of your understanding. The deeper your understanding, the less they might need to explain... The less your understanding, the more they might need to explain.
Either way, it's probably not a test, just a way of ensuring they got the message across effectively.
Aim for Improvement, not Perfection
No one expects you to complete the task, challenge, or activity perfectly first up.
What every coach wants to see is a shift towards doing it better each time; of moving forward. Don't get down on yourself if others in your team or squad can do it better than you can, that's on the point.
The point is that every session you're getting a little bit better than you were the last time.
After the session, or away from training, ask your coach for specific feedback about how you're going and what you need to improve on.
It might be based on your last few competitions or a training block you are currently in.
This feedback can be used for you to 1) plan your sessions away from the coach; 2) focus especially hard during certain parts of training; or 3) what you should be doing before training even starts.
When the session ends don't sprint off.
Get a few more reps done while you're still warm. Or grab a buddy and ask them to help you work on the thing they do better than you.
Alternatively, offer to help someone who was struggling with something in training. Give them some guidance on how they can improve. It might not make you a better athlete but it'll definitely make you a better person.
Say Thank You
The 'winningest' team of all time, the New Zealand All Blacks, have a saying 'better people make better All Blacks'.
With that in mind, saying 'thank you', helping pack up after training, leaving the gym in a better condition that what you found it in... All of these actions will help make you a better person in the most important race: life.
Grant Jenkins is a High Performance Coach who has 15 years experience in preparing Developmental and Elite Athletes. Contact him on email (firstname.lastname@example.org), his website, or twitter (@Grant_Jenkins).