Scientists have been fascinated by the idea of how people’s personalities differ for generations, and a lot of work has been put into trying to find workable ways of defining how different people behave, and whether the reasons for different traits are mostly nature or nurture.
There are all kinds of ways people’s personalities can be analyzed, from the Jungian concept of introversion versus extroversion, which talks about whether people are focused more on their internal worlds or the worlds around them, through to detailed personality analyses using things like the Myers-Briggs types. You can find out more about theories of personality, or even work out which types you exhibit yourself using online psychology resources, but how much does owning certain personality traits or views of the world affect what a person is good at?
When we look at sports stars, it is clear that there are some traits that are basically essential for athletic success, whereas others seem to vary wildly depending on the sport and the individual.
Traits Almost All Exceptional Sports People Have
Here, we are not just talking about people who have athletic talent, but people who have chosen to see the sport they perform in through to its highest level. People who have chosen this career, and who are driven to fully realize their own potential within it.
For this reason, it is true that almost without exception all sports stars are not averse to risk. People with sporting talent who are naturally averse to risk tend to be those who do not pursue sporting careers, instead choosing something that offers more guaranteed security. There are some exceptions in terms of Olympic athletes who may have another career too, but for professional sports people, a willingness to confront risk is almost always a factor.
Most sports stars are also people who are capable of focus, repetition, and self-discipline, and who are good at focusing on long-term goals rather than immediate pleasures. In Freud’s terms, they would be people who are very good at deciding what to do with their time using the superego rather than the id.
Traits That Can Vary Wildly in Sports Stars
While some traits are basically necessary for someone to be able to – or even want to – try and become a professional athlete, others seem to come with different benefits that can help athletes. It doesn’t seem to impact your chances of being a top athlete whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, for example. An extrovert may have a better understanding of what their teammates are doing during a team sports match than an introvert, but an introvert will have a better understanding of what they themselves need to be able to reach their full potential. They will need less help getting motivated once they are fixed on a goal, as their drive usually comes from within rather than from external encouragement or approval.
It is interesting to look at how much sporting success can be attributed to exceptional athletes’ personalities and mindsets, as well as their talent and physical training.