Four Shared Traits of Successful Collegiate Athletes

Soccer player with foot on ball

Being a successful collegiate athlete requires a lot of juggling. Managing academic requirements, athletic responsibilities and a blossoming social network while maintaining ties to family and friends back home is no easy feat. In my experience, student-athletes who are able to rise to meet the challenges they face typically share these four important characteristics:

1. Time Management

From a logistical standpoint, being organized is absolutely critical for a college athlete’s success. Coaches don’t start players who show up late to practice and professors don’t give credit to students who miss class. Having well-developed executive functioning skills ensures that student-athletes know where they need to go, when they need to be there, and what they need to bring – whether on the field, in the classroom, or around campus.

2. Adaptability

In college, adaptability is key. Student-athletes have to adjust to changes in a course syllabus, navigate life with a new roommate, and even alter their tactics on the pitch. Information, feedback and events are constantly changing, so being flexible and adjusting quickly are tremendously valuable skills that will help a student-athlete stand out to their coach, professor and advisor.

3. Accountability

Part of transitioning to college is transitioning to being an independent adult. This means taking responsibility for one’s own actions and being aware of one’s impact on the greater community. Athletes, to be successful, must hold themselves accountable in all areas of life. From class attendance, to their work ethic in practice, to being a good teammate, student-athletes must constantly be aware of their privileges and the responsibilities that come with them.

4. Perseverance

Life on campus comes with highs and lows, and how students respond to the lows will most certainly dictate their future success. Whether dealing with minimal playing time or that pesky calculus requirement, student-athletes succeed when they persevere. From a biological standpoint, persevering through a challenge leads to the creation of new pathways in the brain – and that’s a good thing! In fact, thought leaders now believe that struggling is essential for growth. Working through the tough stuff is a rare quality that will ultimately lead you to new heights.

I have seen these four characteristics again and again as themes in collegiate success stories, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Fortune 500 companies are now looking to hire former-student athletes to bolster their workforce, citing the positive traits of student-athletes as the driving factor.

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Chris Bart-Williams is the founder and owner of CBW Soccer Elite. After an extensive career in the English Premier League, Chris now uses his vast soccer knowledge to assist families throughout the college recruiting process and prepare players for the mental and physical challenges of collegiate soccer. You can reach Chris at

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