How Do I Become a Professional Athlete?

M.C. Huguelet

If you dream of turning your love of a particular sport into a career, you may wish to become a professional athlete. Competition for professional athlete jobs is extremely fierce and only a very small proportion of hopefuls can make it to the top, but there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of entering the field. First of all, you should dedicate a significant amount of your time to training from an early age. Secondly, you should attend high school and college to maximize your chances of getting scouted, and to give yourself a second career option. Finally, you should determine whether you would be willing to devote your life to your chosen sport during your professional career.

A professional ping pong player.
A professional ping pong player.

Perhaps the most fundamental step on your quest to become a professional athlete is dedicating as much time as possible to practicing your chosen sport, preferably from an early age. If you want to someday compete in a team sport, you should join one or more school, community, or club teams, and if you are interested in an individual sport like figure skating, you should work one-on-one with a coach. Practicing your chosen sport each day will help you develop your talent and technique, and will also keep you in top physical condition. It will also help you cultivate the sense of discipline that is a critical part of a professional athlete’s job.

Professional rugby players.
Professional rugby players.

While it may not seem obvious, if you want to become a professional athlete, you should also take your education seriously for several reasons. First of all, an athlete often gains entry to a professional team after a scout has watched him compete on his high school or college team, or has read about his performance on a school team in newspapers. Many high schools and colleges require athletes to maintain a minimum grade point average in order to play on their teams, meaning that you must not only attend school, but also give adequate time to your studies. Another reason to focus on academics is that a degree can give you a second career option if your professional career ends while you are still young, or if you are ultimately unable to land a spot as a professional.

Working with a coach might help a figure skater turn professional.
Working with a coach might help a figure skater turn professional.

Lastly, in order to become a professional athlete, you generally must be willing to dedicate your entire life to your chosen sport for the length of your career. This can mean that you are required to work extremely long hours each week and to travel regularly, and may mean that you have to relocate if you are traded from one athletic organization to another. If you achieve fame as an athlete, you may also find that your life becomes the subject of constant public scrutiny. Thus, before you become a professional athlete, you should decide whether you are willing to accept the physical and emotional pressures that go along with the job.

Professional athletes first half to excel while in high school and have good enough grades to remain eligible to play in school.
Professional athletes first half to excel while in high school and have good enough grades to remain eligible to play in school.
Professional athletic careers can begin by playing school sports as a child.
Professional athletic careers can begin by playing school sports as a child.

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