Is becoming an athlete right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming an athlete is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an athlete or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
How to become an Athlete
Becoming an athlete requires dedication, hard work, and a strategic approach. Here is a guide on how to pursue a career as an athlete:
- Choose a Sport: Start by identifying the sport you are passionate about and have a natural talent for. Consider your physical attributes, interests, and personal preferences. Research different sports and their requirements to determine which one aligns best with your skills and aspirations.
- Start Young: Many successful athletes begin their training at a young age. If possible, start participating in your chosen sport during childhood or adolescence. Join local youth teams, clubs, or school programs to gain experience, develop foundational skills, and learn the fundamentals of the sport.
- Seek Proper Coaching and Training: Find reputable coaches and trainers who specialize in your chosen sport. They will provide guidance, personalized instruction, and structured training programs to help you develop your skills, improve technique, and build physical fitness. Coaches can also provide valuable insights, monitor your progress, and identify areas for improvement.
- Balance Training and Education: As an aspiring athlete, it's essential to strike a balance between training and education. Maintain good academic standing while investing time in your sport. Look for schools or colleges with strong athletic programs or opportunities for scholarships, as they can provide a supportive environment for your athletic pursuits while ensuring you receive a quality education.
- Compete at Various Levels: Engage in competitive events at local, regional, and national levels. Participate in school competitions, club tournaments, and other organized events to gain exposure and experience. Seek opportunities to compete against skilled opponents and evaluate your performance against a higher level of competition.
- Participate in Elite Programs: Identify elite programs or academies associated with your sport. These programs often offer advanced training, access to top coaches, specialized facilities, and exposure to talent scouts and college recruiters. Seek invitations or tryouts for these programs to enhance your skills and gain recognition.
- Attend Showcases and Combines: Showcases and combines are events where athletes display their skills in front of college recruiters, scouts, and talent evaluators. These events provide an opportunity to showcase your abilities, receive feedback, and potentially earn scholarships or invitations to competitive programs.
- College Sports Recruitment: If you aspire to compete at the collegiate level, take steps to make yourself visible to college coaches and recruiters. Create a compelling athletic resume or portfolio highlighting your achievements, statistics, and notable performances. Reach out to college coaches, attend recruitment camps, and explore the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) eligibility requirements.
- Stay Committed and Dedicated: Becoming an athlete requires perseverance and a strong work ethic. Stay committed to your training regimen, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and be disciplined in your approach. Embrace challenges, learn from setbacks, and stay motivated to continuously improve.
- Seek Professional Representation: As you progress in your athletic career, consider seeking professional representation, such as a sports agent or manager. These professionals can help you navigate the business side of sports, negotiate contracts, secure endorsements, and provide guidance throughout your career.
There are several helpful resources available for athletes. It's important for athletes to explore and utilize these resources to enhance their athletic development, gain knowledge, and access support networks. Additionally, connecting with experienced coaches, mentors, and fellow athletes can provide valuable guidance and insights throughout an athlete's journey. Here are some key resources to consider:
- National Governing Bodies (NGBs): Each sport in the United States has a corresponding National Governing Body that governs and promotes the sport at a national level. These organizations provide valuable resources, training programs, coaching certifications, competition schedules, and guidance for athletes. Examples include USA Track & Field, USA Swimming, USA Gymnastics, and USA Basketball.
- United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC): The USOPC is responsible for selecting and supporting Team USA athletes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They provide various resources, including athlete support services, sports medicine, anti-doping programs, and access to the Olympic Training Centers.
- NCAA: The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs college sports in the United States. Their website offers resources for student-athletes, including information on eligibility requirements, recruiting guidelines, academic support, and athlete well-being.
- Athlete Career and Education (ACE) Program: The ACE Program, offered by the USOPC, provides resources to assist athletes in pursuing education and career goals alongside their athletic pursuits. It offers guidance on college planning, internships, job placement, and professional development opportunities.
- Athlete Support Programs: Many sports organizations and foundations offer athlete support programs to assist with training, coaching, and financial resources. For example, the Women's Sports Foundation and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation provide grants, scholarships, and athlete support initiatives.
- Coaching and Training Resources: Various platforms provide access to coaching and training resources. USA Coaching provides coaching education and certification programs for different sports, while platforms like TrainHeroic and TeamBuildr offer online training programs and resources for athletes and coaches.
- Sports Science and Sports Medicine: Institutes and organizations dedicated to sports science and sports medicine can offer valuable resources for athletes. The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Centers have world-class sports medicine facilities, while organizations like the American College of Sports Medicine provide research, guidelines, and educational resources for athletes and sports medicine professionals.
- Mental Health Support: Athletes can access mental health resources through organizations like Athletes for Hope, which promotes mental health awareness and offers support networks. The USOPC and NCAA also provide mental health resources and support services for athletes.
- Sports-Specific Associations: Many sports have specialized associations and organizations that provide sport-specific resources, guidelines, and development opportunities. These associations often offer coaching clinics, training camps, and educational materials. Examples include the American Football Coaches Association, USA Hockey, and USA Volleyball.
- Local Sports Clubs and Community Programs: Local sports clubs, community centers, and youth organizations can provide opportunities for athletes to participate in training, competitions, and community engagement. These organizations often offer coaching, facilities, and networking opportunities within the local sports community.