What does a Athlete do?

Median Pay $51,370
Growth Rate 7%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

Athletes and sports competitors play in organized and officiated sports teams nationally or internationally, this can include a variety of sports such as basketball, baseball, weight lifting, tennis, golf, swimming, football, just to name a few. Many dream of becoming paid professional athletes, but in reality, only and few beat the odds to make a full time living of doing so.

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How to Become an Athlete

Athletes and sports competitors are not required to have a particular level of education; however, many are recruited by colleges in the earlier stages of their career path in becoming a professional athlete. It takes years of practice and experience to become an athlete or sports competitor. Athletes must learn the rules of the game and develop their skills throughout their younger years competing in high school, collegiate athletics, or club teams, some even take private lessons or attend sporting camps.

Important qualities include athleticism, concentration, decision-making skills, dedication, eye hand coordination, stamina, and the ability to work well as a team player. The primary strengths to become a paid athlete or sports competitor are superior athletic talent and extensive knowledge of a chosen sport.

Job Description of an Athlete

what does an athlete do

Athletes and sports competitors typically are developing and improving their athletic skills by training, exercising, and maintaining the physical and mental stamina. They take directions from team mates, coaches, and sporting staff regarding strategy and tactics. Often times they assess their individual or team performances after a game or sporting event to distinguish their strengths and weaknesses as well as their opponents.

Being an athlete involves more than competing in a professional sporting event. Most athletes spend the majority of their time practicing under the guidance of trainers and coaches. Competition at all levels is extremely intense and job security is always in question. Most athletes train throughout the year, even during the off season to maintain in peak physical condition, keep their form, and maintain or improve game techniques; there is very little downtime when competing at the professional level.

Though numerous people dream of becoming paid professional athletes, few people, make it to this level- and when they do, professional athletes often have short careers due to debilitating injuries or only being able to perform at their peak for a short time period. Athletes and sports competitors often work irregular schedules, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. They also work more than 40 hours a week for several months at a time as they practice, train, travel, and compete. Only 10% of professional athletes make above $200,000 dollars, however some compensate by receiving endorsements from companies or brands. Professional athletes generally advance in their sport by displaying superior performance and receiving recognition in turn, earning higher salaries.

Free Teacher and Student Resources

Teachers: If you’d like a poster that illustrates beneficial stretches your students can perform in the classroom during breaks, the University of Northern Iowa offers a free printable stretch poster.

The University of Michigan offers a free Injury Prevention for Children and Teens course on EdX.org (link opens in a new tab) with the option to pay a small fee receive a verified certificate upon completion of the course. Educators and parents may find this course helpful.

By taking this course, you’ll learn:

  • Key concepts for successful injury prevention in children and teens, including Advocacy at both the local and national levels.
  • Intentional injury prevention including Bullying, Dating Violence, Sexual Violence, Firearm Injury, and Suicide Prevention.
  • Transportation Safety, including child safety seats and teen driving.
  • Sports Concussion.
  • The Opioid Epidemic and Adolescent Substance Use.

    Athlete or Sports Competitor Career Video Transcript

    Do you dream about a future as a professional athlete? While few people make a living from athletics, dedication to your sport and outstanding athletic ability, can take you into the big leagues. Athletes and sports competitors carry out game or competition strategies while following the rules and regulations of their sport. They compete in team sports such as football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and soccer, and individual sports, such as tennis, running, golf, and skiing. They may compete regionally, nationally, or internationally.

    Athletes train year-round, practicing skills and improving teamwork under the direction of coaches, sports instructors, and athletic trainers. They review video recordings to critique and improve their own performance and analyze their opponents’ strategies. Personal qualities that are helpful to athletes include resilience, initiative, self-discipline, and confidence. Sporting events may expose competitors to harsh weather conditions, physical and mental stress, and the risk of injuries, particularly in contact sports.

    Athletes can expect to work some evenings, weekends, and holidays, and usually need to travel to compete. There are no education requirements for this career, but athletes usually develop skills by participating in sports in high school, college, or on club teams. Some sports and localities require athletes to be licensed or certified to practice. Public appearances, diet, and exercise restrictions, rigorous physical training, and study to improve, are all part of the life of a professional athlete.

    Article Citations

    Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Athletes and Sports Competitors.

    National Center for O*NET Development. 27-2021.00. O*NET OnLine.

    The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.