While it is true that sport psychology studies consistently reveal kids play sports primarily to have fun, did you know there are countless, invaluable life skills kids learn in addition to having fun? I call these unique life skills Athletic Transferable Skills, and they are incredibly useful when applied to school, future careers, and life.
Unfortunately, in too many instances kids overlook and/or devalue Athletic Transferable Skills, sometimes because the skills learned become so routine to them, and in other cases because they falsely assume that everyone learns life skills whether they are involved in sports or not. In my experience I would argue that the life skills learned in sports are incredibly useful, and when recognized and applied toward other challenging life situations become powerful problem solving tools.
Examples of Athletic Transferable Skills
Athletes learn so many life skills it’s almost impossible to count them all, but some of the most important include goal setting, leadership, communication, stress management, multi-tasking, focus, handling adversity, and managing anxiety. It is important that kids not compartmentalize these skills, but instead look for the many ways that they can be used toward other life challenges and problems — like keeping up with grades, or learning how to control nerves when taking a test or asked to give a speech in front of the class. In each of these examples Athletic Transferable Skills can be used to help with confidence, focus, and controlling negative anxiety.
Using Athletic Transferable Skills
It’s understandable why kids don’t always see the immediate connection between a skill learned in sports and how it can be used successfully outside of sports, as that concept can be abstract — especially for younger kids. Still, it is important to have ongoing dialogue about all the skills being learned in sports, and then collective brainstorming about all the life challenges that sports life skills can be used for to solve problems. At my practice, this is often one of the first steps I take with kids when they present their problems to me, and they are often amazed to learn that they already have the skills to be successful but haven’t parlayed the skills from sports to their current problems.
Mental toughness isn’t something limited to sports, but needed in all aspects of life if we are to develop the confidence needed to overcome life challenges. Fortunately for athletes, Athletic Transferable Skills provide both the skills and the mindset needed to maximize human potential and succeed in life.