Career Skills You Pick Up Playing Team Sports

When athletes enter the workforce, they are at a significant advantage. This comes, in large part, from the skills they acquire from playing team sports.

We’ve heard stories of out-of-the-park candidates and recruiters interviewing, and one of the greatest common attributes was their involvement in competitive sports.

There is no reason you can’t pick up the same qualities an athlete does on the field, it’s never too late to improve your marketability, leadership, and performance. Below are some built-in behaviors we’ve noticed in applicants that stand out from the rest.

Demonstrate responsibility and monitor performance

Depending on if you’re playing sports with a captain or coach, you’ll have a certain degree of self-performance you’ll have to keep in check with the rest of your team. Working together towards a common goal increases your ability to identify how to share resources, leverage others’ strengths, and take a break when necessary. When you’re attached to the goal, you have some serious buy-in and you’ll work to fix what needs to be fixed.

There is no participation trophy

A trophy is prized, a reward for hard work. The longer you stay with a sport or practice, the longer you’ll see the benefits where others will give up, or be forced to the bench. Team sports give you the sense of working together, but at the end of the day there will be a winner and a loser. Team athletes often are more resilient to failure and moving on after losing.

Time away from technology

With an ever-increasing percentage of time spent on our phones and tablets, you might not appreciate the benefits of spending time with others, fully engaged in an activity that excludes technology. Technology is necessary but can be abused, and athletes understand when to put down the device, and when to focus.

How to work well with others

Team sports often include some form of coach, captain, or referee. In addition to working with other people on your team, athletics helps you work well with others that dictate the rules of the game you’re playing. This encourages adherence to the agreed-upon goals, and the better you understand the rules, the more you can become an integral part of a winning team.

Identify and maintain a positive attitude

Teammates with positive attitudes are easier to work with, and that sentiment can impact how championships are won. This doesn’t only affect one player, for many competitions, a negative attitude can be a huge threat to outcomes and performance. Also, team sports can help you to understand how to deal with challenging or negative consequences.

Competition makes you better

Sports of all kinds teach you to compete. Facing adversity and overcoming that adversity is challenging. Exposure to this kind of challenge teaches you invaluable lessons that can be used throughout your career. When faced with a difficult task, a complicated project, or an angry client looking at it from the perspective of an obstacle to overcome rather than a problem can positively affect the outcome. When competing in sports, facing a lesser opponent rarely teaches you how to get better. However, when facing a superior opponent, you learn from their techniques and you push yourself to get stronger & faster. When faced with superior opponents or coworkers throughout your career knowing how to improve your game in the same way can be invaluable.

Setting an example

Whether you’ve been playing soccer since kindergarten or if you just started on your neighborhood kickball team, the point is you will always fall on a scale compared to others on your team. Athletes who have played team sports know that the best potential can come from current underperforming players, and they’re encouraged to set an example.

These are all practical skills that anyone can pick up through hard work and dedication if you work in a group, whether in business, athletics, or philanthropy. The big takeaway is to be open-minded and don’t be afraid to bring up your experience with athletics or team sports. You never know how your extracurriculars can increase your potential to be considered and hired.

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