Sporting Lessons


By Shaleek Blackburn

As many coaches and athletic directors will tell you, it takes much more than athletic ability to succeed in sports and more importantly, in life. Student-athletes, whether competing at the interscholastic or intercollegiate levels, can receive valuable life lessons through sports participation.

“It’s important that coaches identify teaching leadership and life skills as a main focus and goal of their programs,” says Rainer Wulf, who has taught for the Master’s of Coaching and Athletic Administration program at Concordia University Irvine. According to Wulf, once named Athletic Director of the Year by the California State Athletic Directors Association,

The primary goal of youth sports is to teach life skills, the things that that have staying power once the wins and losses fade away.”

What you remember, says Wulf, “are the relationships and the people you worked with, the people you played with, the fun you had with the team. Those are the things that are the enduring lessons that people talk about at their reunions down the road.”

According to Wulf, here are the top ve life lessons student-athletes can learn through sports:

  1. Perseverance – Things don’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, a plan, organization and dedication to persevere through a lot of different things to gain success.
  2. Teamwork – Much of success in life, when you get into adulthood, is done within groups, teams and networks, so the ability to effectively work with others and ful ll the requirements of various roles within a team environment is important.
  3. Dealing with Adversity – A great deal of learning takes place in life when things don’t necessarily go your way; you learn from mistakes when they happen.
  4. Leadership – Positive peer pressure can result in leadership skills: a player on a high school or college team, for example, will keep their grades up and not get into trouble because they don’t want to let their squad down.
  5. Balance – Winning is just part of the game. It’s important, but it can’t be the No. 1 aspect; overall improvement can mean more than winning a contest.

3 Tips For Learning Life Lessons Through Sports

Keep winning and losing in their proper place

Remind athletes that winning › is not the “be all and end all” of why they play.

Focus on development

Coaches should always remember the infl uential role they have in shaping young athletes into responsible and positive adults.

Be flexible

In sports, as in life, the ball is not always in your court; show players that they can grow and learn through tough times.

Tags: sports, development, off the field

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