5 Essential Character Traits for Athletes

Key Thought: You must develop resolve.

A new season means new victories. But you’ll have to work to earn them. You know you’ll have to work daily, put in extra reps and run sprints after practice.  You are ready to breathe hard, sweat long, and feel the muscles burn because you want to be the best you can be.

You are prepared to work physically, but are you equally ready to work on your character?


You, your parents and coaches can see you grow stronger, run faster, and jump higher. Your stats are measurable, but what isn’t so easily seen is your character. This season you may have personal and team goals, but make sure the goal of character growth is your top priority.

If you want to succeed this season, and every one after that, you must always be willing to grow in character. Character is what is shaped on the inside of your life. It develops in your heart, mind, and emotions, and is the most important part of any athlete. This season, make your mind up to grow in five essential qualities (come back to playingforglory.com in the upcoming weeks to read about the others).

If you want to be a great athlete, you must develop resolve, resilience, courage, grit, and faith.

Let’s look at resolve.


Resolve is determined perseverance to stay the course. It is a firm tenacity to do something. Athletes of resolve decide to do something and do it. It means to commit to not quitting, no matter the circumstance. Resolve happens prior to the workout. It happens in the heart not the muscles. Resolve may be encouraged by coaches and talked about by teammates but it can only happen by your own decision. You own your own resolve. You are an athlete who is resolute only because you have personally owned the decision and taken responsibility for what you can. Resolve is highly personal and you only have it when you decide.

Resolve is tested and tried through difficulty, discouragement, and defeat. Resolve has the opportunity to grow when failure happens. Hardship and challenge are the necessary ingredients to strengthen resolve. When practices are long and hot, when you don’t make the cut, when you’re not a starter game after game, when your teammates pile on the criticism and you’re not convinced your coach believes in you, those are the circumstances in which resolve grows.

“Sports are an excellent venue in which you can grow in the character quality of resolve.”

Let me offer several suggested resolutions you can make this season as an athlete. 

  1. Resolved, I will give my best effort with my best attitude in every practice and in every game, regardless of what the scoreboard says. 
  2. Resolved, to consistently be respectful of coaches, referees, and fellow athletes even if I’m criticized and the officiating is poor.
  3. Resolved, to never make excuses or blame others when I lose and to always share the credit with others when I win. I will strive to be gracious in wins and losses.
  4. Resolved, I will acknowledge my athletic ability comes from God. Therefore, I will thank Him that I can play, use my influence as an athlete to make Him known, and depend upon Him to help me develop character. 

If you want to succeed this season, you must answer a simple question…are your resolved? 

A 9-Year Old with Resolve


Last year, when my son Soren was 9-years old, he said out of the blue, “Dad, I want to run  a half marathon.” To my surprise, he was not joking. Since he wanted to run one and he was only 9, that meant that I had to do it with him. I hadn’t been consistently training so I was doubtful if I could finish. But his resolve to run 13.1 miles trumped my doubt. So one  morning we set out and ran.

The miles went by one by one and he was doing great. After about mile 7, I continued to compliment him. I assured him that he didn’t have to finish. As a 9-year old he had already accomplished so much. But replied, “No dad, I’m finishing!” So we continued.

After mile 9, I began to tire. I told Soren. He replied with encouraging words such as, “Come on dad, you can do it! We can finish! Don’t quit!” His positive attitude of resolve carried us both until we hit the half marathon mark of 13.1 miles. He didn’t really care about the pace and time but he did care about finishing what he resolved to do. I was so excited for him. I was thrilled that he built resolve into his character that day.

What about you? Comment and let me know how you are building resolve into your character.


For further reading…

To read some of the most well known life resolutions from a 19-year old leader read The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.

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