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"Back in the Game" article four

What is leadership? What does it mean to be a leader? How do sports teach kids leadership skills to use both on and off the field?

In technical terms, leadership is “the position of a group of people leading or influencing others" (OED). Leadership is demonstrated when someone takes the initiative to step up for their team, group school project, or volunteer organization. It is important to note that one does not need to be in a leadership position or the most vocal teammate in order to be a leader. Leaders lead by example!

In the most simple terms of looking at the word "leader," a leader is someone who leads. They take initiative to figure out a way to get the job done. And done well! A leader is someone people can rely on and know they will put the group on their back. They may not win the game, but they give it their all and make those around them better for it.

Being a good leader includes a “reciprocal interaction” between the leader and their team (Gould & Voelkner). This “reciprocal interaction” can be demonstrated with listening or action. Listening to your teammates and coaches is key to understanding the team’s needs. A leader learns more from observing and listening to help make the team connect. Listening skills allow leaders to make sure the team’s needs are heard and met. When a leader takes action, they lead by example. They are the one that goes the extra mile to be the best teammate they can be. Leaders see the season as year-round and the group work as forming true connections. These skills follow you at each stage of your life, making life easier to navigate. Above all, a leader is someone who has good work ethic, good communication skills, and is a team player.

Here at Rising Athletes, we are looking to help athletes, parents, guardians, and community members. We will be providing a wide range of topics related to the importance of sports and resources to assist them on their athletic journey. This first series, Back in the Game: The Return to Youth Sports, will explore the many benefits of kids participating in athletics.


Daniel Gould & Dana K. Voelker (2010) Youth Sport Leadership Development: Leveraging the Sports Captaincy Experience, Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 1:1, 1-14, DOI: 10.1080/21520704.2010.497695

"leadership, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2022,


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