1. Learning perseverance.
OK, this one is obvious, but it's also the life skill that's most necessary. Life has never been and never will be fair, but overcoming challenges (games, opponents, your own record) — the fundamental core of sports — is the key to making it through.
2. Turning failures into gains.
Sometimes we lose those life challenges. Many times, athletes lose games. A missed practice that ends in being unprepared for a game to a fumble are all motivators to re-evaluate and do better. Just like in those times, those who have competed in sports know when to analyze what went wrong and readjust for next time, when they'll come back stronger.
3. Bettering the skills you're good at.
Because sports involves different skill sets across different games and challenges, athletes can really find what they're good at and become even better. In life, they'll do the same, knowing where their passion lies and working toward being the best they can.
4. Asking for help.
Though they may be proficient in an area, athletes have help. They have coaches, trainers and teammates that push them to where they need to be. And they wouldn't have such a love for the game if they weren't able to accept that help. Life isn't meant to be experienced alone. They know they can only get to the next level if they have the support they need to get there.
5. Holding yourself accountable.
In life, you're going to make mistakes. Same goes for sports. Athletes know that this is just part of the game. There's room for messing up, but they know that means they must hold themselves accountable. A loss may have been the team's fault. But if you're the one making most of the plays, take responsibility. Sports teach you how to own up and move forward.
6. Holding others accountable.
Sports also teach you how to expect better of others, too. If you're giving 100 percent, those that you surround yourself with should give the same. Athletes know that if their teammates drop the ball (literally and figuratively), they'll fail, too. They strive to make those around them be better and help them do so.
7. Allowing for second chances.
Like mistakes, redemptions happen all the time in sports. New games are like new days. When athletes fall behind, they know that like new games, there will be new days. They pick themselves up and do what they have to to be better and do better.
8. Being able to self-reflect.
Sports allows people to self-evaluate. Whether its knowing when you're too hurt to play or when you need to step it up in practice (or at work), self-reflection is vital to staying in the game in the long term and doing well.
9. Taking instruction.
As stated earlier, getting help is key in sports and in the "real world." But taking unsolicited advice, even though you may not like it, is something athletes learn to do every day. Coaches have a players' best interest at heart when it comes to constructive criticism. Athletes know how to listen. Life requires listening, too.
10. Trusting others.
While taking instruction requires trusting, there's an inherent trust sports teaches athletes about putting faith in others. In particular their teammates. This can extend to work or even friendships. As a boss, they know better than anyone to not micromanage because they know everyone is responsible for a specific task.
11. Trusting yourself.
That said, athletes also know to trust themselves. They know the hard work they did to get where they are is the reason they're still in the game. Not an accident. Like in life, they learn to trust their skills and not to doubt themselves. Even when things get tough, they know they're strong enough to make it through.
12. Knowing you are who you're with.
Every player is an individual, but athletes know that they're only as good as the team's weakest link. They also know their image is only as good as the person who can ruin it. People make bad choices, but playing on a team gives athletes a keen awareness on who to associate with. If they're caught doing something wrong as a group, everyone goes down.
13. Pushing your body's limits.
Sports are physical, so athletes learn to be in tune with their bodies' needs. They have to eat healthy and train so that they don't hurt themselves on game/race/competition day. The world needs more of that.
14. Always having the urge to accomplish goals.
Whether its winning or beating your own records, the end result is what drives athletes to keep on. Life is the same. Goals are the key to success and moving forward.
15. You're not always going to win.
And like life, you don't always come out on top in sports. Athletes know this and know how to move on. That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, but they don't expect everything to go as planned.
16. But you're not always going to lose, either.
Athletes strive to meet their goals because they know they're not impossible. Even if they seem impossible, they love the game too much to quit. Winning even a little bit makes losing worth it. Even though mistakes hurts in our day-to-day lives, they make our successes that much greater.
17. Hard work does yield results.
A no-brainer for athletes, but they know that time, energy and enthusiasm does equal success. They've been through enough games to know the formula and see the results. It may not happen right away, but they know that work will pay off.
18. Success is greatest when there's a cheering squad on your side.
But success isn't simply hard work, either. Success comes from the support given by others and so when players win, it feels better. They not only accomplish their goals for themselves, but for those who helped them get there and also those who want them to keep succeeding.
19. Knowing there's more to life than just a game.
Above all, playing sports teaches you that a game is just a game. It's the people you surround yourself with, the lessons you learn and your own happiness that makes life (and playing) worthwhile in the first place.