4 Ways to Promote Leadership in Athletics

Playing sports is a great way to hone skills and create friends. Of the many skills you'll define, leadership may be one of the most versatile and powerful. If you are uncertain of how to be a true leader, then read the following four tips and implement them in your life.

1. Talk the Talk AND Walk the Walk

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Successful leaders use every method of communication available. Occasionally the only way to communicate is through a whiteboard, discussion, and repetition. However, there are many opportunities to teach through your approach and response to challenges. For example, the team is going to imitate your communication style. Communication between the team, the officials, and the opponent is a major component of sportsmanship - the respect to others in and out of the game.

The best opportunities to "walk the walk" is when an official makes a call you don't agree with or when the opponent is winning. It's easy to get frustrated and lose patience because you care so much, but how you lose is as/more important than how you win. The team will learn how to healthily convey their distress and frustration by observing your respect of official decisions and the opponent. Additionally, the parents and fans will follow your example which builds your team's reputation.

2. Volunteer by Officiating

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Outside of competition, it's important to invest your time and passion back into the community. Recently there has been a significant drop in high school athletic officials, diminishing the opportunity for interested athletes to play. Along with poor pay, interscholastic officials are claiming poor treatment as a primary reason for the decrease in officials. 85.7% have stated they will quit as well if the abuse continues. Respect needs to be rediscovered, and you can spearhead that movement in your community and in your team by working as an interscholastic referee.


Whether for a youth basketball group or another sport altogether, volunteering your time to young athletes is fulfilling, helpful, and sets a good example. When you join the ranks of athletic officials, it ties the competitive community closer together which decreases rude or negative treatment. Without officials, competitive athletics would suffer, and less athletes would have an opportunity to learn about leadership on the court.

3. Designate Responsibility

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One of the best ways to promote leadership within team is give each athlete real responsibilities. Some born-leaders may jump for opportunity, but a successful coach provides the opportunity to every player. Sometimes they just need a little push. Whether it is putting equipment away, leading stretches, or acting as captain, young players will step up to their duties and learn responsibility.

Athletes are hungry to prove themselves, and their growth into future leaders is more important than a victory. Sometimes you may think it would be easier if you and/or other coaches handled important responsibilities, and you're probably right, but that doesn't teach your team about management and leadership. This leads to the final tip - lead, not manage.

4. Leaders, NOT Managers

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This tip should be easy to understand, but may be challenging to implement. Leading and managing are similar in that they make large decisions, organize a group of people, and help them pursue a common goal. The difference lies in conveyance. Managers dictate and instruct, while leaders listen and explain. Leaders believe in positive reinforcement and respecting the team's thoughts. Managers rely on their title and don't acknowledge the team's feelings or thoughts.

If you haven't figured it out already, these methods aren't exclusive to athletics. Promote leadership and teamwork in every aspect of your life by implementing these four practices.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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