Athletes make great teammates

December 3, 2013

By Halley

There is a reason why athletes often list team experiences on their resumes. Participating on a team is often the first job-like experience many people have. Team players are expected to give their best effort at all times, support one another, hold each other accountable, and challenge themselves to reach beyond what’s comfortable. These same qualities carry over from the field to the workplace. The following are four big reasons (plus a smaller one) that the lessons you learned anywhere from little league baseball to college football will stay with you as you enter the professional world:

Dedication and discipline: Whether it’s deciding to go for a run before sunrise or setting your alarm 30 minutes early to get a head start on the day’s work, you’re going to recall that time when an old coach or teammate advised you that taking shortcuts only cheats one person: you. And you’ll be glad you took their advice. Athletics teaches self-sacrifice in the name of bigger-picture objectives. Pushing yourself to run that extra mile can help you understand the positive results that will come from taking an extra 15 minutes to prep for a presentation or staying late to finish a project.

Time management: This one is for the college athletes especially. Any person who finds time to fit exercise into his or her schedule knows it isn’t easy, and student athletes know this better than anyone. A late practice or an away game can make it difficult to manage a heavy workload, so athletes need to know how to distribute their time across multiple responsibilities effectively, ensuring they don’t sacrifice quality of work when they’re pressed for time. As someone who is new to a workplace environment, it can sometimes be challenging to juggle numerous tasks while also communicating clearly with your team. Employees who know how to prioritize their time strategically are more organized and productive.

Productivity: Exercise improves mental and physical acuity. Taking care of your body by staying active optimizes your work output and helps sustain energy.  Employees who place importance on their health can operate at maximum levels of creativity and efficiency. This isn’t to say that employees whose highest level of athletic experience was middle school rec soccer are less productive than ex-basketball stars. Depending on the amount of exercise that is normal for you and your lifestyle, taking the time to do some crunches, hop on the treadmill or take a walk in the fresh air will relieve stress and increase energy, making you a happier and more productive worker.

Collaboration: A team leader knows how to motivate others to produce their best work and leads by example. Working effectively with a group means knowing how to manage different personalities and ideas, and solve problems as they arise. Whether you are someone’s co-worker, teammate, captain or boss, these communication and collaboration skills are essential. The best athletes know how to accept constructive criticism from others and use it as motivation to improve – an important ability to have if you want to succeed as a young professional. Athletes are inherent communicators, constantly relaying a stream of information to others around them as events unfold. This quality is crucial in the workplace, as you want your team’s collective efforts to represent your company positively.

Team sports teach us how to collaborate with others to reach a common goal, and exercise offers the added bonus of maintaining health and productivity. The best part is that you don’t have to be an elite athlete to profit from these activities. People who participate in any type of physical activity can reap the benefits when it comes to learning and implementing useful workplace skills. Whether your definition of athletic prowess means taking the last-second shot in a championship game or looking forward to grabbing a bite with the team after your company softball tournament, the ability to work together toward a common goal is an important skill that we can all learn from athletics.

Also, a competitive spirit never hurts.

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