To Succeed In Your Career, You Need To Develop Your Skills

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

Today’s blog is the final article in a series of four blogs on “The competition for jobs in the sports industry is stiff, therefore you need to prepare accordingly.” The first article discussed the need for mentoring in order to advance your career, the second was on effective networking, and the third blog was on the importance of gaining experience. In this article I am sharing with you the importance of gaining and improving your skills.

To be successful in your career you need to know the basic fundamental skills of your profession, and you need to be able to perform these skills with great precision and accuracy. Whether it’s coaching or athletic administration, the first step toward effective skill development is for you to learn how to properly perform the tasks of your job.

So what are the basic fundamentals of your job? As a coach you need to know the skills, strategies, techniques, and schemes that you will teach to your players and team. You also need to understand human behavior, motivation, and recruiting. As an administrator, you need to understand the basics of your endeavor. For example if you are in marketing you need to know the skills associated with product development, pricing strategies, supply and demand theory, promotional techniques, customer service, techniques for effective selling, and social media.

But understanding these skills and tasks is just the beginning. It takes more than just learning a new concept at a coaches clinic or at a marketing seminar in order to be great at what you do. According to the book “Execute for Success”, researchers have identified three stages of skills acquisition – the cognitive stage, associative stage, and autonomous stage. To be the best in your industry, you need to develop your skills so they are automated. But how do you develop your knowledge and skills to the point of automation? How do you become outstanding in your profession? You first need to understand the difference between these three stages of skills development.

In the cognitive stage, you begin to learn a skill by memorizing the facts that are relevant for that particular skill. As you enhance your understanding of the skill, and improve upon your performance, you enter into the associative stage of skill development.

During the associative stage, you refine the performance of your skill, and the decisions you make, through practice and by learning from the errors you make and the successes you experience. The outcome attained is improved performance on a consistent basis. As you continue to practice and improve your skill, you will enter the autonomous stage. In this stage, your skills become more automated, rapid, and you make fewer mistakes. You are able to perform your skills automatically and without thought, and make quality decisions based upon your experience.

So I ask you again, what are the basic fundamentals of your job? You need to identify these tasks, learn how to properly perform these skills, practice them (or study the concepts), and become proficient in your industry. Somebody has to be the best in the industry, why shouldn’t this be you?


Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at  


The #1 Careers Book in Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  This is a must read for anyone who wants to work in college athletics”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University



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