The Importance of Being a Leader in Sports

During my NFL career, I learned that leadership is a trait that all athletes have deep inside of them. Unfortunately, I found that most players do not know how to apply their leadership skills. It is the inability to apply leadership that sets the regular NFL players apart from the true greats such as LaDainian Tomlinson, Marvin Harrison, Peyton Manning, and Brett Favre. These fine players are all strong leaders. It is their powerful leadership skills that inspire their teams to come together as a team and play at the best of their ability – even when they are losing.

Sports leaders are able not only to lead people in the right direction but to also give them confidence. A leader makes his teams believe deep in their hearts that if you follow me, we will win. This requires a lot of responsibility and charisma on the part of the leader, but it's also what separates good players from the Hall of Fame players.

As a young athlete, if you want to make it first to college sports and then to professional sports, you must develop your leadership skills. It is the strength of your leadership skills that will help separate you from the competition. College and Pro teams want leaders. Leaders win games.

As a young athlete, if you want to someday make it to the pros, you must work on developing your leadership skills everyday. You need to learn how to motivate people and make them believe in you. To build your leadership skills, here are some tasks you should do.

1. Be on-time for your classes at school and work hard to get good grades. This shows your teachers that you are eager to learn and to work hard. It also shows your coaches that you are eager to learn and work hard. So, always show respect for your teachers and coaches and they in-turn will show respect for you. This is the first step for becoming a leader. You must show others that they can trust and respect you.

2. Be a leader in everything you do. At school, help your classmates learn. Lead them to going to class on-time and working hard to get good grades. Help your community. And, help your teams improve their skills on and off the field. The sooner you take the role of being a leader who makes smart decisions, the sooner people will see that you are a leader and they will follow you. Also, when people who have power see that you are a strong leader, they will give you special opportunities that other people and players will not get.

3. Show leadership by example in your sport. Work at learning your skills and the strategies of the game harder than anyone else on your team. One trait the true sports leaders all have in common is they are always the first to arrive at the sports facility in the morning and the last to leave at night. They become the best players and the strongest leaders by working twice as hard as everyone else. If you choose to work twice as hard as everyone else, you will receive a deep respect from both your teams and from your coaches. And, you will become a master of your sport.

4. Being a leader is even more important during the bad times than the good times. A true leader remains confident and motives his team members even when they are losing. It is during bad times that a leader's true colors will shine and he will do everything he can to help his team be confident and driven to win.

Finally, understand that leadership is not something that is given to you. Leadership is something that you give to others.