Raise your hand if you have ever complained about any of these things:
- Shuttling kids to and from practice
- Cleaning smelly laundry left overnight in a gym bag
- Clearing the calendar for weekend games
- Paying sports fees
- Travel time and expenses for away games
If you have kids involved in youth sports, and you are honest, then you probably raised your hand.
However, you still choose sports participation knowing that the rewards usually pay off in spades.
One area of great benefit is the way in which sports participation can equip your child to be career-ready as an adult. Many of the same qualities that employers are looking for are traits that good coaches are teaching.
Here are 12 of those character-shaping qualities that are sought after by companies and bosses.
They are separated into these 4 groups:
- Your Child Athlete’s View of Work
- Your Child Athlete’s Approach Toward Others
- Your Child Athlete’s Approach Toward Life
- Your Child Athlete’s Ability to Dig Deep
Your Child Athlete’s View of Work
Strong Work Ethic: Natural talent may be born, but work ethic is learned and practiced. When a coach teaches young athletes the value of hard work, he/she is investing in that child. The rewards will be felt immediately in regards to the team output. A good strong work ethic can enable a child athlete with minimal talent to excel in their sport.
It also has the power to impact the future adult and how they operate in the work force. What boss doesn’t want an employee that is willing to work hard even when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient?
Self-discipline: Making good nutritional choices, practicing a skill “after hours”, finishing out a workout with as much effort as when he/she started – are all ways that your child athlete can develop self-discipline in their sport.
Adults who live with a measure of self-discipline know how to forgo instant gratification in order to achieve something that may take time and effort. As employees, they are willing to complete the tasks that are required of them, even when they don’t feel like it.
Commitment: Teach a young athlete what it feels like to commit to a sport, team, or coach and you give them the ability to look past the negative feelings they may have about undesirable responsibilities.
Adults that have experienced committing to a team when they were younger will more naturally embrace a team environment at work. “Committing to something bigger” is a quality desired by most companies.
Your Child Athlete’s Approach Toward Others
Selflessness: From a young age we are all taught that putting the needs of others before our own is desirable and right. Yet it doesn’t come naturally. It is a trait that we must practice over and over again. Being a part of a team is a perfect platform to do this.
In the same way, the workforce is always looking for individuals who are willing to sacrifice what may be convenient or beneficial in favor of what’s best for the company.
Conflict Management Skills: Disagreements, differing perspectives, and misunderstandings are inevitable. Sports parents and coaches that take the opportunity to teach kids how to effectively manage conflict are providing a lifelong skill set.
Adults that have learned how to approach conflict in a way that maintains healthy relationships are invaluable to the work environment.
Your Child Athlete’s Approach Toward Life
Desire to Learn: Acquiring new skills in a sport empowers kids to approach opportunities to learn, with confidence.
Employees who take an everyday-learning attitude toward their jobs have an easier time keeping their knowledge and competence up to speed.
Optimistic: With the leadership of a positive coach even a child athlete that has a tendency to see the world through a pessimistic filter, can learn to choose optimism.
Likewise, employers are interested in knowing whether you will be an employee who sees solutions for every problem or sees problems with every solution. Obviously, the former is more desired.
Loves a Challenge: There is a never-ending supply of challenges in the world of sports. Your child will always be faced with getting stronger, faster, more efficient, smarter etc. Parents and coaches have countless opportunities to train up kids to run toward these challenges, instead of away from them.
Courageously facing workplace challenges – which are inevitable – will always make you stand out as a valuable employee.
Your Child Athlete’s Ability to Dig Deep
Perseverance: This is another one of those qualities that gets noticed regardless of your child’s level of talent. An athlete that shows grit (or the ability to persevere) in the face of adversity is seen as a real asset to the whole team.
Certain jobs and/or careers will require a bit more grit than others. For example, accountants during tax season have to persevere through weeks of long days and nights till all the work gets completed. Having the ability to persevere through challenging seasons is an important factor in job longevity.
Discretionary Effort: The athletic platform might be one of the first places that a child comes in contact with the idea of “going the extra mile.” Coaches that encourage athletes to always do more than the minimum required, teach kids a valuable life-long lesson.
Adults that apply this principle to their work, will always surpass their co-workers and will be seen as a tremendous resource to their employer.
Competitive Nature: Coaches that inspire athletes to perform their best, are developing a competitive nature in them. An internal drive takes over once a child begins to care about how he/she performs – as compared to opponents or their own previous performances.
Many career paths involve competition from other companies. Bosses value employees that take seriously the need to be competitive.
Determination: When your child decides upon athletic goals it is their determination that gives them the resolve to work through to completion. Parents and coaches should always encourage a determined attitude.
In the workplace, there will always be deadlines, pressures to perform, and a sense of urgency to complete certain tasks. Adults that have learned the power of their own determination will blossom in these scenarios, where others will falter.
Do you have moments when you find yourself wondering if sports participation is worth all the “sweat equity?” Remember that many of the same qualities that are taught and developed in your young athlete are later required in their careers. Your efforts today will set them up for success tomorrow.
Everything Growing Champions For Life does is to help sport organizations create the most positive learning environment for athletes, parents, and coaches. I have shared our strategies with stakeholders in many sports. If you are interested in learning more about our in-person seminars and workshops, webinar series or online learning program, I would love to hear from you.