Sports organizations are constantly in search of high-performing athletes who can contribute to a team’s success. Predicting success in sports, however, is a daunting task. A recent study may provide some empirical evidence that high-performers or more aptly, champions, possess certain personality traits. The performance of 91 national championship athletes was studied and a significant association between player performance and certain personality traits was positively identified. The study found that what separates the ‘good from the great’ was not only dependent upon genetics, talent, and physical strength; but also certain personality traits.

Champions tend to be:

Extroverts. Extroverted athletes are highly confident, thrill-seekers, and enthusiastic; which helps them overcome fears, insecurities, negative emotions, worry, or anger so they can perform better in the face of challenges.

Conscientious. Conscientiousness leads to impulse control and a sharp focus on specific goals.  This, in turn, makes a person persistent, responsible, dependable and work in an organized manner.

Emotionally stable. The emotionally stable athlete remains calm, self-confident, and composed in tough situations, thus allowing the athlete to think clearly and make rational decisions during the heat of competition.

Open to experience.  Being open to experience helps athletes bear the pressure of a new environment and welcome competition-related stress.

A word of caution: these findings represent trends in champions. There are always exceptions to any rule or trend, but research supports these personality traits as clearly helping good athletes to become great, and turning great athletes into champions.


Khan, B., Ahmed, A., & Abid, G. (2016). Using the ‘Big-Five’-For Assessing Personality Traits of the Champions: An Insinuation for the Sports Industry. Pakistan Journal of Commerce & Social Sciences10(1), 175–191.