Professional Athletes, Individual Sports


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A high school diploma will provide you with the basic skills that you will need in your long climb to becoming a professional athlete. Business and mathematics classes will teach you how to manage money wisely. Speech classes will help you become a better communicator. Physical education classes will help you build your strength, agility, and competitive spirit. You should, of course, participate in every organized sport that your school offers and that interests you.

Some individual sports such as tennis and gymnastics have professional competitors who are high school students. Teenagers in this situation often have private coaches with whom they practice both before and after going to school, and others are home-schooled as they travel to competitions.

Postsecondary Training

There are no formal education requirements for sports, although certain competitions and training opportunities are only available to those enrolled in four-year colleges and universities. Collegiate-level competitions are where most athletes in this area hone their skills; they may also compete in international or national competitions outside of college, but the chance to train and receive an education isn't one many serious athletes refuse. In fact, outstanding ability in athletics is the way many students pay for their college educations. Given the chances of striking it rich financially, an education (especially a free one) is a wise investment and one fully supported by most professional sports organizations.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for professional athletes.

Other Requirements

Specific physical requirements will vary according to the sport. Jockeys, for example, are usually petite men and women. Many sports require drug testing.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Extensive experience (in high school and college sports) and a track record of high performance in their sport are required to become a professional athlete. 

Professional athletes need to dedicate themselves to constant training and a continuous pursuit of excellence in their sport.  They should be in top physical condition and compete as often as possible to improve their skills.  They must know how to deal with the stress of championship competition and enjoy the opportunity of playing in front of large crowds.

There is so much competition to be among the world's elite athletes in any given sport that talent alone isn't the primary requirement. Diligence, perseverance, hard work, ambition, and courage are all essential qualities to the individual who dreams of making a career as a professional athlete.