Did You Know Gratitude Improves Athletic Performance?

One reason I love watching athletes receive awards is the acceptance speeches. In them athletes thank God, their mom, their Little League coach, their teammates, the fans, and on and on. They express tremendous gratitude to all those who helped them along the way. What if we encouraged athletes to express gratitude more often?

I try to practice what I preach. I’ve written posts about cultivating gratitude daily and giving thanks to others. Since being more intentional about gratitude, I’ve noticed more of the benefits found in research. It is awesome stuff!

Why Should Athletes Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude? 

As I thought about teams and athletes I worked with I thought of six reasons athletes should cultivate gratitude. It would benefit their character, attitude, teamwork, and performance.

Here are six reasons coaches should encourage more gratitude in their locker rooms:

1. Gratitude encourages humility. When athletes express gratitude they move further from the entitlement epidemic so prevalent in our society today. It is a small way athletes can demonstrate a we not me mentality.

2 .Gratitude deters arrogance. In what some call the “ME-llinial” generation some athletes are focused on their individual stats, highlights, and successes regardless of their team. Expressing gratitude to those who have contributed to each athlete’s journey acknowledges that other people matter. No one became successful alone.

3. Gratitude facilitates emotional control. Athletes who experience gratitude are likely to experience more positive emotions. This lowers stress, promotes problem solving, and greater self-regulation.

4. Gratitude fosters contentment. Not to be confused with complacency, contentment helps athletes to be grateful for what they’ve already received (playing time, involvement in a team, a scholarship, a platform to impact others, etc.). So often the focus is on what we don’t have, we forget to be grateful for what we do.

5. Gratitude stewards stronger teams. Research shows that when people cultivate an attitude of gratitude on a regular basis they act with more compassion, generosity, and kindness. This has a positive impact  on their relationships. A team with better relationships performs better.

6. Gratitude enhances athletic performance. Cultivating a consistent attitude of gratitude benefits athletes mentally, physically, and socially. Grateful athletes take better care of their bodies and they tolerate aches and pains easier. They sleep 10% more and feel more alert and focused. All that translates into better performance in competition and the classroom.

Free Download

Use this poster to encourage your athletes to cultivate an attitude of gratitude on and off the playing surface.


Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Locker Room

Help your team and your athletes to cultivate an attitude of gratitude this week. But don’t stop there. Make it a mainstay in your locker room or facility by designating a space (like on a white board) where players can write at least one thing they are grateful for each week. It could be an opportunity they received, a class they worked hard to pass, kindness shown by a teammate – anything. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude will better your players as athletes and as people and also improve your team.


Question: How will you encourage an attitude of gratitude this week? Leave your ideas in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.



Please note: I encourage reader discussion, however, I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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