How Being an Athlete Sets You Up For a Successful Life

Recently I was talking with a parent of a talented athlete, and she had made her daughter stop playing sports after high school to focus on academics. The mother was sure that her daughter could not be successful in life is sports were a part of her life. To succeed her daughter needed to do nothing but focus on her academics. If you or someone you know are in a similar situation, here are some points to consider on how being an athlete sets you up for a successful life.

Using Actions to Create Feelings

Most of the world need feelings to be in an excellent place to create the actions they need. Athletes know how to use their efforts to develop emotions. Think about this for a second. How many times have you heard someone say they are not going to do something they need to do because they don’t feel like it?

When an athlete is in practice and the middle of a tough workout, they can’t tell their coach that they don’t feel like finishing or working hard. The athlete must use the action of moving until they feel good or until they finish and feel accomplished.

Digging Deep

There will always be obstacles in our path in life. Being an athlete teaches you how to face these obstacles and not allow them to derail your success. Whereas some people run from their obstacles or try to avoid them. Athletes know how to meet these obstacles head-on.

Find that hard to believe? Watch a youth football team and watch a team respond to being down going into the second half. They don’t just roll over and play dead; they fight for their lives with everything they have to try and come back. There are not many places outside of sports that children can develop this type of fight in the face of adversity.

What I remember in high school football is in a similar situation. We were an undefeated team in the championship down by a touch down at the half. Our coach (and my dad) walked into the locker room to give us a speech and all he said was “If you guys don’t win, I am going to retire from coaching because I don’t have what it takes to build a championship team. You guys have everything you need to win in my eyes.”

Those words impacted the team because we knew he was right. It was for us to fight. It was for us to dig deep and proved that we belonged and that is what we did we came back and won.

Dealing With Loss

The comeback story only happens sometimes, but being an athlete is filled with constant disappointment. From losing, to getting injured, to getting benched, not playing well, not getting the scholarship that you want so bad. The disappointments just keep pouring in.

These are great because life is also full of loss. We lose money, friends, family, jobs, cars, and sometimes we lose our way, and it is up to us to figure out how to deal with it. There is no better preparation for this than the constant loss in sports.

When employers look to hire people, they don’t just want someone who knows how to win. They also want someone who can hang in there for the terrible losses and find a way to get back to winning. No one wants to work with or be around someone who crumbles in adversity.


Would you think that employers want leaders?
Do entrepreneurs usually make great leaders?
Is the world not short on leaders?

Sports play a huge role in developing leadership abilities. Companies no longer just look for anyone to come and work for them. People want more than just employees they want leaders ready to come in and change their organization from the inside out.

What better way to prove your merit here than years of experience as an athlete?

Commitment to The Mission

The goal of sports is to win. Even when your team is bad, and the players know it is bad, the goal remains the same. The ability to lock in on a mission like this is more valuable than most people realize.

When I was in college, and I started creating a mobile app with a team, it blew my mind how hard it was for some of the nation athletes to lock in on the mission. They were just not oriented that way. Whereas the athletes on the team stuck to the mission as their lives depended on it.

The mission is everything, and it is the purposes for doing what you do whether as a sports team or in business. If you want to make yourself valuable, you need to learn to become a mission-oriented person.

The Ability to Work Together

Teamwork is very different from how it often works in school. Teamwork in school means take a project and dividing it up between the team and coming together in the last few days to put it together. It is just individuals acting as a team.

A true team lives and breathes together. They understand that when one falls them all fall. Teams get better for the greater good of the team, but they know that every man must play his role to succeed. You can’t teach this in a classroom.

There is a reason that many athletes build deep bonds similar to the relationships you would find in armed forces. It is because you are working together knowing that your success does depend on others. You get to see people go through the worst of worst times and see them at their best as well.

Communication Skills

Athletes learn to do two things at varying levels of skills. The first is communicated with their coach, and the second is communicate with their teammates. These relationships are similar to that of a boss and a co-worker. Again, you can ask anyone in the world if intelligence is the only thing that matters and they will blatantly say no. Communication matters just as much and sometimes even more than just pure knowledge.

Employers will not expect athletes to be perfect communicators, but they will know if they have been athletes all through college, they have practice working on their communication skills with coaches and their team. There is a starting point which can be built on.

Handling Pressure

Life is full of tense moments that require us to step up our performance. The problem I that not everyone can do this. Pressure makes some people lose their cool and perform worse. Athletes are used to being in high-pressure situations and know how to deal with them better than most.

Hunting for The Top Spot

The goal of any business is to increase in size and be more successful. It means the company is continuously on the hunt for the top spot. Whether it is a dentist trying to dominate the area, or a new startup trying to dominate the world, the goal is the same. The problem is that most employees do stand out have the drive to do this. They are ok with just existing.

Athletes always get the upper hand in the hiring process because owners and CEO’s know that they want to be the best and they want people on their team who want to be the best. They want to work with people who know how to win and can help others on the team learn how to love winning.

Excellent Time Management

In college, you have to balance

  • Class time
  • Homework
  • Long practices
  • Weights
  • Rehab and recovery
  • Team travel
  • Team meetings
  • Study hall
  • Social life

A lot is going on in these years. No one is better equipped for being busy than a student-athlete. The demands that sports place on the schedules of athletes is unreal. I remember my freshman year of college being jam-packed since I had 10 hours of study hall and it seemed like a lot of hours of practice time. It felt as if every minute of my day was accounted for.

Employers are searching for people who can manage multiple projects and not get overwhelmed with being busy. Employers don’t want to have to hold hands; they want to bring in people that know how to manage their time. Athletes come in with the proven skills to do this.

Being an Athlete in College is an Investment in the Future.

Playing sports in college is not a curse that takes athletes away from succeeding in the classroom, it gives them complimentary skills that employers want more than good grades. Being an athlete is an investment in your future because it will always make sure you stand out. All across the country, there are millions of people who graduate, who are considered to be “smart.” How will you stand out from the pack?


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