Sports Professional

Job Description:

Sports professionals are paid to train and compete in their chosen sport.

Job Category:
Culture, Media & Sport

What you will do:

Sports you could take part in professionally include:

  • individual sports – athletics, boxing, tennis, snooker, cycling, golf, horse racing and other equestrian sports
  • team sports – football, cricket, basketball, rugby, hockey and ice hockey


  • compete in matches and competitions
  • keep up and improve your skills with regular practice
  • maintain your general fitness and stamina by training
  • make sure your diet and lifestyle help you to achieve peak performance
  • take advice from coaches, nutritionists, exercise professionals, sports psychologists and doctors

If you became well-known as a sports personality you might also:

  • give media interviews
  • promote products by appearing in adverts


You’ll need:

  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • persistence and determination
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • physical fitness and endurance
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a sports professional, such as a professional athlete, coach, or sports manager, you’ll need a strong foundation in sports and related skills. While specific requirements may vary depending on your chosen sports career, here is a list of subjects and considerations that can help you pursue a career in sports:

  1. Physical Education (PE): PE is fundamental for anyone aspiring to be a sports professional. It provides a solid understanding of sports, physical fitness, and practical skills.
  2. Mathematics: Basic mathematical skills are important for tasks like statistics, data analysis, and financial management, which are relevant in many sports professions.
  3. Biology: Understanding human biology is essential for athletes, coaches, and sports scientists.
  4. English: Good communication skills are crucial for athletes, coaches, and sports managers. It’s important for expressing ideas, creating reports, and communicating with others.
  5. Psychology: Psychology can provide valuable insights into the mental aspects of sports, including motivation, performance anxiety, and team dynamics.
  6. Business Studies or Economics: If you’re interested in sports management or sports business, these subjects can be beneficial for understanding the financial and organisational aspects of sports.
  7. Geography: Geography can be relevant for sports professionals involved in planning, managing sports facilities, or dealing with sports events and tournaments.
  8. Science Subjects: If you’re interested in sports science, consider taking additional science subjects such as Chemistry or Physics, which can be helpful for understanding the biomechanics and physiology of sports.

Post School

You’ll usually start at an early age, by joining a club or amateur organisation and getting instruction and training.

Most sports professionals are ‘spotted’ early on by a talent scout.

For some sports you’ll need to meet very specific entry requirements, like:

  • horse racing requires jockeys to be a certain height and weight
  • boxing has divisions according to weight

If you have the potential to succeed, you could get help from:

  • sponsorship schemes run by some universities to provide support to carry on training whilst studying
  • In the UK, The Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) – national governing bodies (NGBs) select young people in higher or further education to receive awards of sporting services
  • the advanced apprenticeship in sporting excellence – aimed at 16 to 19 year olds who show promise of achieving the highest levels in their sport

You can get details of local clubs and advice on the best way to progress in your particular sport.

Working Hours and Environment:

Your hours and working conditions will vary depending on your sport, but you’ll train almost every day. This could be early in the morning or late in the evening, and for some sports could be outdoors in all weather conditions.

Competitions and matches usually take place in the evening or at weekends. You’ll spend a lot of time travelling in the country or overseas, and could spend long periods away from home.

Career Path & Progression:

In the more physical and contact sports, your career would usually be short. Many professionals finish their sporting career by the age of 35.

After your career ends, you could stay involved in sport by moving into areas like coaching, refereeing, team management, sports journalism or sports centre work.