One of the most frustrating things that coaches encounter is having players on the roster with so much potential, but they fall woefully short of that potential. And it hurts the most when - regardless of the time, love, and energy that you pour into it - there is next to nothing that we can do to prevent it from happening.
Just like in life, there's a fair amount of personal responsibility that falls on reaching your full potential, and there are a number of reasons why talented people fail to realize their ceiling.
Here are five reasons that come to mind as to why players fail to reach their full potential.
1 - Work ethic
This one is the most obvious, and maybe the most common as well. Whether it's the kid that's so talented that he doesn't think he need the weight room, or that he doesn't need to practice hard because he can just flip the switch on game day, these types of very talented players seem to come along every few years. They know they're really good, and that is reflected in the way they work, especially when no one is watching, or when the weather is less than ideal.
2 - Motor
I prefer to call this area "want to," and I consider it completely separate from work ethic. If a player's proverbial cup isn't constantly overflowing with an unquenchable want to - whether that's chasing down a ball carrier, blocking on a screen, or fighting through a double team - the road to reaching their full potential is going to be a massive uphill battle. This is often the area that separates the incredibly average players, and the ones you can't do without when the game is on the line.
3 - Being coachable
There are countless occasions and stories when players have played beyond their given talents because they do as they're coached to do in practice, and then on game day. However, this also tends to be one of the pitfalls of talented players that don't reach their potential. They think they know best.
4 - Being selfish
If you've been around the game long enough, there always happens to be a kid that isn't open to change, until he's out from under the watch of you an your staff's watchful eye. We've all been rebellious teenagers before, only to see the light years later, and talented players that fail to reach their potential fall victim to the same train of thought. One great example of this that comes to mind is pushing hard against, and even refusing, a position change that would be in the best interest of the program, but would require some personal sacrifice.
5 - They buy into the negativity
Whether it's on the sidelines questioning the play calling by the coordinators, or the head coach's fourth down decision, or the logic behind the workout on the board, there can be plenty of negativity in your program that you may not always hear. Guys that don't reach their potential are the ones that continue to add fuel to that negative fire, and allow it to manifest itself in their heart and mind, which makes it impossible for them to reach (and exceed) their ceiling.
On the same token, and a more positive note, we've all had players on our roster that do the exact opposite of those five things listed above, and end up playing better than anyone expected because they worked their tail off, they were coach-able, they had a great motor and "want to" they were open to change, and they approached everything with a positive outlook.