10 Character Traits Every Athlete Should Learn

By Janis Meredith | Posted 8/5/2020

Although we all know that youth sports are a great place to learn life lessons, it’s good for parents and coaches to be reminded just what character traits they should be instilling in their young athletes.

Throughout my 21 years of being a sports parent and 31 years of being a coach’s wife, I’ve seen youth sports teach these traits. As you peruse the list, ask yourself how you can be intentional about making sure your young athlete is learning them. I’ve listed them in no particular order:

Compassion: the ability to feel sympathy and sorrow for a teammate who has a misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to help them.

Honesty: upright, sincere, fair. Honesty is not often stressed in youth sports, but the trust factor depends on it and trust is huge in developing a strong team culture.

Leadership: Leadership is not a title; it is influence and every single athlete can work on be a positive influencer both by actions and words.

Responsibility for actions: the ability to admit mistakes and learn from them will help your child grow and achieve success. Denial will stunt that growth.

Reliability: showing up on time, remembering all their equipment, and following through with duties are simple ways for kids to learn how to be reliable.

Persistence: endurance, grit, constancy—these all embody the ability to keep on keeping on, through thick and thin. I’m telling you, any athlete that learns this early in life has learned a very valuable life lesson.

Humility: the ability for an athlete to be good without being arrogant, to be courteously respectful of teammates, opponents, officials and coaches will earn them respect from all sides.

Hardworking: I have no doubt that sports taught my kids how to have a good work ethic. I see this very clearly in all three of them and the positions they hold now in their jobs.

Adaptability: the ability to adjust readily to different situations not only makes your child easier to get along with, but it will also help them internalize less stress.

Team Player: a person who willingly works in cooperation with others understands that success is a team effort.

The fact is your athlete cannot become a champion without a championship mindset. This mindset will spill over into every area of life as they grow into adulthood.

Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.


USA Football's new model for youth football is designed to make the game safer by reducing contact and by teaching the game based on an athlete's age, the skill they are learning and game type.