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Work Ethic

"Back in the Game: The Return to Play" article two

What does it mean to be a hard worker? How do I know if I have a good work ethic? How do sports teach good work ethic skills for kids to use both on and off the field?

Work ethic is, “a belief in the value of hard work.” (OED). When someone has a good work ethic, they get labeled as a “hard worker” and as a “leader.” They understand that in order to achieve their individual and team goals, they have to put in the work.

Work ethic is not a linear skill, or one that is perfected. You will always be learning from life decisions and their outcomes, both positive and negative. Athletes learn from and develop foundational athletic skills to perform at their best level through learning and work ethic. This is what can be called “muscle memory.” Athletes who practice hard, learn from their mistakes, and listen to their coaches/teammates will become one of the team's most valuable members. Having a good work ethic gives kids that intangible trait that teammates and coaches gravitate towards and respect.

What does a good work ethic look like?

Good work ethic is demonstrated when you actively participate and work towards your goals. A positive attitude and mindset are key as they provide kids with accountability and motivation. Good work ethic does not mean perfection, rather it is when kids put in the time and energy to try to be the best they can be that day.

How can kids improve their work ethic through sports?

1. Goals

Setting attainable goals is a great step in the right direction to improve on work ethic. It is important to set some short-term and long-term goals.

What do you want to accomplish:


This week?

This month?

This year?

The more specific, the better! Goal-setting is a lifelong tool to hold yourself and your team accountable.

“What will you do today to make you a better athlete for the next game?”

“What do you need to do at practice this week to play well in Friday's game?”

2. Motivation

Motivation is that desire, the fire inside of every student-athlete, to play their hearts out. Through setting goals, kids and their team can see tangible results, which fuels their desire to keep going.

3. The Off-Season

Goal setting and motivation are just as important during the “off-season” as during the season. This can look like keeping up with healthy foods, continuing to develop relationships with teammates, and attending weight room sessions and out-of-season activities.

Youth athletics provides a learning environment of many transferable skills on and off the field, and work ethic is one of those skills. By learning and practicing good work ethic skills through sports, kids will be able to carry these tools with them into the classroom, home, and future workplace. Being a team player means you have a good work ethic. Your team must work together at practice, off the field in the classroom, and play together as one team.

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.


"work, n." OED Online, Oxford University Press, December 2021, Accessed 6 March 2022.


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