7 Traits That Make Student-Athletes Great Leaders

Confident young women on a soccer team.

It is no coincidence that a large percentage of CEOs and elected officials were athletes in their youth! As many business and political leaders will tell you, they started to develop the skills that have served them well throughout their careers when they were student-athletes. Here at Rocky Top Sports World, we have seen first hand how playing sports brings out the best in kids and young adults. Read on to learn the top seven traits that make student-athletes great leaders.

1. Athletes Are Hard Workers

As Vince Lombardi once said, “the price of success is hard work.” No one has achieved greatness without putting in hours of blood, sweat, and tears. Athletes understand the value of rigorous practice, ironclad self-discipline, and giving 110%. Nothing inspires the admiration of others like consistently going the extra mile.

2. Athletes Are CompetitiveA basketball tournament at Rocky Top Sports World.

A competitive spirit pushes leaders to be the best that they can be. Former NFL player Brad Edwards explains that competition isn’t about one-upping your opponents, it is about being “single-minded in the pursuit of excellence.” Athletes are always looking for ways to improve themselves and the organizations they belong to.

3. Athletes Are Masters of Time Management

Student-athletes develop tremendous time management skills because they need to balance their academic responsibilities with their obligations to their team. In general, high school students who play sports have higher GPAs and more interest in going to college than their peers who don’t. Being able to stick to schedules, meet deadlines, and budget your time are essential skills for any leadership role.

A high school basketball game.4. Athletes Can Make Decisions Under Pressure

Making tough choices when the stakes are high is a challenge that all leaders must face. Athletes are uniquely equipped for these situations because they are constantly making high-pressure decisions in the middle of games. One study found that Division I athletes are better at thinking quickly than college students who don’t play sports.

5. Athletes Understand How to Work on a Team

Being a leader isn’t about telling other people what to do, it is about facilitating an atmosphere where everyone can contribute. Athletes who play team sports have a deep understanding of group dynamics, effective communication, and meaningful collaboration. Leaders with a background in athletics are also great at identifying their team member’s unique talents and helping them shine.

6. Athletes Believe in ThemselvesGirls on a volleyball team.

Successful leaders are able to inspire others to believe in a big idea or mission because they believe in themselves. Playing sports and improving over time is a wonderful way for young people to build self-confidence. Studies have found that the connection between youth athletics and self-esteem is particularly strong for girls.

7. Athletes Know How to Deal with Failure

Setbacks and failure are inevitable, but great leaders know how to weather these storms and persevere. Athletes are accustomed to losing games and then analyzing what went wrong and how they can improve in the future. This constructive approach to failure is essential for leaders on a sports team or in an office.

Rocky Top Sports World and the Great Smoky Mountains.About Rocky Top Sports World

Located minutes away from the heart of Gatlinburg, TN, Rocky Top Sports World is one of the best tournament destinations in the United States. With seven fields, six basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, team rooms, and an onsite grill, our 80-acre athletic complex has everything you need for an unforgettable sports event. To learn about all of the fun coming to Rocky Top Sports World in the coming months, check out our Tournaments page!