What is an Athlete?

Also known as: Sportswoman, Sportsman, Sportsperson, Professional Athlete.

An athlete is someone who possesses a natural or acquired ability for physical exercise or sports, particularly to be performed in a competitive nature. An athlete typically is physically strong, agile and has endurance in order to compete and participate in organized, officiated sports events.

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What does an Athlete do?

An athlete generally does the following:

  • Attends scheduled practices and training sessions to develop their skills
  • Exercises and practices under the direction of coaches, sports instructors, or athletic trainers
  • Stays in the best physical condition by training and following special diets
  • Takes instructions from coaches and other sports staff regarding strategy and tactics
  • Plays or competes in their sport, obeying the rules of the sport
  • Assesses how they did after each event, identifying their strengths and weaknesses

When playing a game, an athlete must understand the game strategies while obeying the rules and regulations of the sport. The events in which athletes compete include team sports, such as baseball, softball, hockey, and soccer, and individual sports, such as golf, tennis, swimming, and skiing. The level of play varies greatly, where sometimes the best from around the world compete in events broadcast on international television.

Being an athlete involves more than competing in athletic events. Athletes spend many hours each day practicing skills and improving teamwork under the guidance of a coach or a sports instructor. They view videotapes to critique their own performances and techniques and to learn their opponents' tendencies and weaknesses so as to gain a competitive advantage.

Some athletes work regularly with strength trainers to gain muscle and stamina and to prevent injury. Many athletes push their bodies to the limit during both practice and play, so career-ending injury is always a risk; even minor injuries may put a player at risk of replacement.

Because competition at all levels is extremely intense and job security is always in question, many athletes train throughout the year to maintain excellent form, technique and peak physical condition. Few people who dream of becoming a paid professional athlete beat the odds and make a full-time living at it. Very little downtime from the sport exists at the professional level.

What is the workplace of an Athlete like?

More than half of all athletes are employed in the spectator sports industry. Those who participate in competitions that are held outdoors may be exposed to all weather conditions of the season in which they play their sport. Additionally, they must travel to sporting events, which may include long bus rides or, in some cases, international air travel.

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