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Become An Athlete

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Working As An Athlete

  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Developing and Building Teams
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Repetitive

  • Stressful

  • $44,680

    Average Salary

What Does An Athlete Do

Athletes and sports competitors participate in organized, officiated sporting events to entertain spectators.

Duties

Athletes and sports competitors typically do the following:

  • Practice to develop and improve their skills
  • Maintain their sports equipment in good condition
  • Train, exercise, and follow special diets to stay in the best physical condition
  • Take instructions from coaches and other sports staff during games regarding strategy and tactics
  • Follow the rules of the sport during competitions and games
  • Assess their individual and team performance after each event and identify their strengths and weaknesses

Many people dream of becoming a paid professional athlete. Few people, however, beat the odds and make a full-time living from professional athletics. And when they do, professional athletes often have short careers with little job security. 

When playing a game, athletes and sports competitors must understand the game strategies while following the rules and regulations of the sport. The events in which athletes compete include team sports, such as baseball, softball, hockey, and soccer, and individual sports, such as golf, tennis, swimming, and skiing. The level of play varies greatly. Some athletes may compete in regional competitions, while other athletes compete in national or international events.

Being an athlete involves more than competing in athletic events. Athletes spend most days practicing skills and improving teamwork under the guidance of a coach or a sports instructor. They review videotapes to critique and improve their own performances and techniques. Athletes must also study their opponents' tendencies and weaknesses so as to gain a competitive advantage.

Some athletes work regularly with fitness trainers and instructors to gain muscle and stamina and to prevent injury. Because of the physical demands required by many sports, career-ending injuries are always a risk. Even minor injuries may put a player at risk of replacement.

Because competition at all levels is extremely intense and job security is always in question, many athletes train throughout the year to maintain or improve their form and technique and remain in peak physical condition. Very little downtime from the sport exists at the professional level.

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How To Become An Athlete

No formal educational credential is required to become an athlete or sports competitor. Athletes must have superior athletic talent and immense knowledge of their sport, which they usually get through years of experience at lower levels of competition.

Education

Although athletes and sports competitors typically have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, no formal educational credential is required to enter the occupation. They must have extensive knowledge of the way the sport is played, especially its rules, regulations, and strategies.

Other Experience

Athletes typically learn the rules of the game and develop their skills by playing the sport at lower levels of competition. For most sports, athletes compete in high school and collegiate athletics or on club teams. In addition, athletes may improve their skills by taking private or group lessons or attending sports camps.

Training

It typically takes many years of practice and experience to become an athlete or sports competitor.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Some sports and localities require athletes and sports competitors to be licensed or certified to practice. For example, racecar drivers need to be licensed to compete in the various races. The governing body of the sport may revoke licenses and suspend participants who do not meet the required performance or training. In addition, athletes may have their licenses or certification suspended for inappropriate activity.

Advancement

Turning professional is often the biggest advancement that an aspiring athlete can make in his or her career. They often begin to compete immediately, although some may spend more time on the bench (as a reserve) to gain experience. In some sports, such as baseball, athletes may begin their professional career on a minor league team before moving up to the major leagues. Professional athletes generally advance in their sport by displaying superior performance and receiving accolades, and in turn they earn a higher salary. Others may receive endorsements from companies and brands.

Important Qualities

Athleticism. Nearly all athletes and sports competitors must possess superior athletic ability to be able to compete successfully against opponents.

Concentration. Athletes and sports competitors must be extremely focused when competing and block out distractions from fans and opponents. The difference between winning and losing can often be a result of a momentary lapse in concentration.

Decisionmaking skills. Athletes and sports competitors often must make split-second decisions. Football quarterbacks, for example, usually only have seconds to decide whether to pass the football or not.

Dedication. Athletes and sports competitors must practice regularly to develop their skills and improve or maintain their physical conditioning. It often takes years to become successful, so athletes must be dedicated to their sport.

Hand-eye coordination. For many sports, including tennis and baseball, the need to gauge and strike a fast-moving ball is highly dependent on the athlete’s hand-eye coordination.

Stamina. Endurance can benefit athletes and sports competitors, particularly those athletes who participate in long-lasting sports competitions, such as marathons.

Teamwork. Because many athletes compete in a team sport, such as hockey or soccer, the ability to work with teammates as a cohesive unit is important for success.

Many professional athletes are also required to pass drug tests.

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Athlete jobs

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Athlete Demographics

Gender

Male

57.1%

Female

40.3%

Unknown

2.6%
Ethnicity

White

79.9%

Hispanic or Latino

11.0%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

1.6%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.3%

French

13.9%

Portuguese

3.7%

Italian

2.6%

German

2.6%

Chinese

1.8%

Hindi

1.5%

Korean

1.5%

Russian

1.1%

Greek

1.1%

Japanese

1.1%

Arabic

1.1%

Swahili

0.7%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Mandarin

0.7%

Danish

0.7%

Hungarian

0.7%

Igbo

0.7%

Tagalog

0.7%

Cantonese

0.7%
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Athlete Education

Schools

Michigan State University

8.4%

Auburn University

5.6%

University of Oregon

5.6%

Saint Lawrence University

5.6%

Oregon State University

5.6%

University of Louisville

5.3%

University of Northern Iowa

5.0%

Pennsylvania State University

5.0%

Stanford University

5.0%

University of Delaware

5.0%

San Diego State University

4.7%

University of Central Florida

4.7%

Arizona State University

4.5%

University of Connecticut

4.5%

University of Florida

4.5%

University of Iowa

4.5%

University of Wisconsin - Whitewater

4.2%

Valencia College

4.2%

Texas State University

4.2%

Coastal Carolina University

4.2%
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Majors

Business

19.7%

Kinesiology

16.4%

Communication

7.5%

Psychology

7.3%

Criminal Justice

5.3%

Marketing

5.3%

Biology

4.1%

Sociology

4.0%

Management

3.9%

Finance

3.5%

Economics

3.3%

Accounting

3.1%

General Studies

2.4%

Political Science

2.4%

English

2.2%

Education

2.1%

Health Education

2.0%

Liberal Arts

2.0%

Public Relations

2.0%

Computer Science

1.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

62.4%

Other

18.7%

Masters

11.0%

Associate

4.2%

Doctorate

1.5%

Certificate

1.4%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.1%
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Top Skills for An Athlete

CustomerServiceSkillsNikeProductKnowledgeResourceMerchandiseVisualDisplaysApparelChampionshipNcaaVarsityLetterFootwearDepartmentBasicSalesTechniquesRightProductSalesFloorTeamworkDriveSalesSoccerLossPreventionEffortsEntryLevelAssociatesRegularTransactionsLeadershipSkills

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Top Athlete Skills

  1. Customer Service Skills
  2. Nike
  3. Product Knowledge Resource
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Utilize customer service skills, sales techniques, and product knowledge to connect customers with the right product and drive sales.
  • Train new employees and assist with employees Accomplishments Utilize customer service skills Improve customers experience Knowledgeable of Nike products
  • Serve as a product knowledge resource for consumers and entry level associates (athletes).
  • Recommend merchandise based on individual requirements.
  • Operate cash register for regular transactions, stock the floor, perform cleaning duties, and build visual displays when necessary.

Top Athlete Employers

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Athlete Videos

How to Draw Athletes

Advice from a Former College Rodeo Athlete from drkit.org

Advice from a Former College Timbersports Athlete from drkit.org

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