Translate Your Skill Sets Outside of Sports

professional development Jul 06, 2020

As an athlete you have learned some really valuable skills from playing sports. You have regular experience in high pressure situations where you have to make quick decisions and perform. You can take constructive criticism and thrive on feedback from coaches to get better. You have to put in work outside of practice and outside of the game to constantly improve. You understand how to work as a team, how to effectively communicate and how to work together to reach a goal. 

These things, on top of your time management, competitive mindset and determination to succeed will propel you forward in all of your future endeavors. The thing you need to understand is how to translate these skills beyond the sports world and into the rest of your life. 

Learn a New Language

Many times the biggest adjustment you need to make as an athlete is to just learn the new language of business or your chosen field outside of sports. You need to connect the dots for prospective employers. Being named MVP means a lot for those familiar with your sport, but you can’t bank on the fact that the person interviewing you for a job will get it. 

Instead, change things up. “I was one of the top producers on my basketball team this season. I scored more points on average per game than any other player and I didn’t miss a game this season. I was awarded the team’s Most Valuable Player for my hard work.” The details you are giving here shows the work you did and the results that you produced to earn that MVP title. 

Focusing on results is key to successfully communicating your experience as an athlete to prospective employers. Highlight your abilities by valuing them with figures. “I had to be a diligent time manager because I not only earned MVP and played in every basketball game this season, but I also earned a 3.5 GPA while I worked towards my Economics degree.” Again, you are not just throwing time management out there as a skill, but highlighting the results you achieved because of that skill. 

Put in the Same Hard Work

Anyone who says that getting a job is easy is just plain lucky- for many people finding a job is a full time job. Don’t get discouraged - you will have to put the time in, just as you did for your game. If you are taking a leap into a new field, show that you are willing to put in that same hard work and effort you put into your sports career.

You can make sure you stand out by attempting to gain experience in your desired field or position. If you have the time and the capacity, take advantage of internships and job shadow opportunities. Or volunteer for a nonprofit organization or association who may need assistance in that area. Network and connect with people in positions that you hope to be in one day and find out what they like about the work, what they don’t like, and what their journey has been. Any and all of these things show potential organizations that you are serious about being an asset and continuing to grow.

You are more prepared for life after sports than you think. Take some time to highlight your achievements, list the soft skills you’ve mastered, and focus on the results you’ve created from those skills. The game may be over, but you’re just getting started.