Sports can be both the teacher and the exam for integrity. If our students learn the importance of integrity while playing gaga ball, or traditional dodgeball, then they are more likely to act with integrity in that situation and many others. Integrity works like a muscle. It can be built and strengthened over time. It is the part of our character that guides us to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Key Topics:
gaga ball, dodgeball, dodge ball, Israel, Jerusalem, integrity, right and wrong, honesty, truth-telling, gratitude, respect


Manu Ginóbili was a talented professional basketball player, but he was an even better teammate. In basketball, as in life, the most successful teams are the ones who practice great teamwork. Teamwork is the act of working together to achieve a goal that is bigger than any one member of the group. Teams share a vision, and they cooperate with each other to make the vision a reality. Good teamwork requires trust, communication, and empathy, among other things.

Key Topics:
basketball, San Antonio, Texas, United States, NBA, teamwork, relationship skills, collaboration, group work, team goals, goal setting, friendship


Perseverance is the trait that helps us to achieve really big goals, like completing the Ironman race in Hawaii. The Ironman is a triathlon, meaning the participants run, swim, and bike during different parts of the event. It takes a lot of perseverance to complete a challenge that big, but it also takes perseverance to do things like building with a complicated Lego set. Like building with Legos, building perseverance is something we have to do one step at a time.

Key Topics:
Ironman, marathon, running, swimming, cycling, biking, Hawaii, perseverance, giving your best, goals, goal-setting, encouragement, daily practice


The year-round tropical weather of Puerto Rico makes it perfect for playing baseball, and that's where Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer Robert Clemente started playing. Clemente wasn't just known for his skill at batting and fielding. He was perhaps best known for how he used his talents and position as a professional baseball player to serve others. The best leaders are those who use their talents and position to serve others. Even when we feel like we don't have the most talent or the highest position, there is always an opportunity for each of us to be a servant leader.

Key Topics:
baseball, Puerto Rico, Caribbean, Roberto Clemente, servant leadership, service, community, caring, compassion


Whether the goal is eating delicious chocolate chip cookies or winning a gold medal in swimming, all goals require preparation. For the cookies, we have to gather ingredients, mix them together, and let them bake. For the gold medal, we have to develop a plan to practice every day to get ready for the big event. No matter the goal, preparation is a must. When we get ready to give our best before the big day, we'll be in a position to actually give our best at the big moment.

Key Topics:
preparation, swimming, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Katie Ledecky, Summer Olympics, responsibility, trustworthiness, getting ready, goals


When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017, professional football player J. J. Watt practiced generosity by leading a donation drive to raise funds for meals and home rebuilding for those affected by the storm. Generosity can be as big as helping rebuild a city after a hurricane or as small as sharing a pencil. The size of the gift doesn't matter. The important thing is to give for the good of others.

Key Topics:
generosity, caring, relationship skills, social awareness, football, Houston, Texas, United States, giving, gratitude, community service


For American Ninja Warrior, players race the clock to complete an extremely challenging obstacle course that is suspended over a pool of ice cold water. The person who completes the course with the best time wins the race. In a solo sport like this, it would seem natural for the players to keep to themselves. But they do just the opposite. Competitors cheer each other on, provide tips for completing the course, and even train together. Instead of ignoring or discouraging their opponents, the ninjas encourage them. That encouragement helps each of them to give their best.

Key Topics:
obstacle course, ninja, Las Vegas, Nevada, America, competition, race, facing fears, encouragement, relationship skills, friendship, giving your best, helping others


Even when they're super frustrated, professional golfers at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia don't let themselves be flustered. Instead, they practice self-control. Life is full of situations where we have to choose between doing what we want to do, and doing what is right. When we choose what is right over what we want, we demonstrate self-control.

Key Topics:
self-control, restraint, responsibility, doing what is right, integrity, willpower, motivation, goals, Georgia, golf, frustration, emotions


The United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs is one of the top universities in the country. Students who graduate from there use their talents, skills, and physical fitness, to ensure that our country remains safe and awesome. But joining the military isn't even close to the only way to show love and commitment to our country and fellow citizens. For example, when we share with others what our favorite things are about America, that's a form of patriotism. In big ways and small, we can all show how proud we are to live in the United States.

Key Topics:
patriotism, fitness, Colorado, citizenship, self awareness, physical activity, exercise, United States, military, appreciation, gratitude



We teach students their ABCs and counting before teaching them to read and do math. This is the obvious way to do things because without knowledge of the letters and numbers, they don't have the basic components required to learn how to write or add. The same is true in sports like soccer.
Becoming a FIFA World Cup champion starts with learning the building blocks of soccer, like dribbling, passing, and receiving, because these are the foundation of the game. The best of the best are masters of the basics; they become reliable and trustworthy with the little things over time. Everyone starts with learning the little things.
Key Topics:
soccer, Argentina, reliability, responsible decision-making, trustworthy, building trust, consistency, little things, practice


Boldness, courage, and bravery are traits that all boil down to the same concept: being willing to go first. We often think of first responders like emergency medical techs, firefighters, and police. Or we think of the men and women serving in the military. But society’s need for bold people to do dangerous and important roles isn't the only reason that going first matters.
When someone is bold enough to go first, that invites the others around them to join in, too. This can be on a grand scale, like Arthur Ashe helping to pave the way for black athletes to play professional tennis. Or it can be on a smaller scale, like when a student stands up for a peer against a bully. No matter the scale, boldness matters.
Key Topics:
tennis, New York, boldness, courage, go first, bravery, leadership, military, growth mindset


SCUBA divers have to know how to use their gear, remember to breathe consistently, and stay in communication with their dive partners. All of this requires composure, so divers learn to stay calm under pressure while becoming certified.
Sometimes our students have big emotions that they don't know how to channel in appropriate ways. This distresses the student and distracts the rest of the class. Like SCUBA divers, our students can learn to use the tools available to them to stay calm when they want to freak out.
Key Topics:
SCUBA, diving, Philippines, composure, calm, breathing exercises, managing emotions, self-management, responsibility, coping, self-soothing, self-regulation


People get really passionate about things that they like and identify with, and that passion inspires loyalty. Whether we're talking about candy, sports, or cities, people are loyal to their team. And no one exemplifies loyalty better than team mascots. These costume-wearing entertainers are fantastic athletes in their own right, but they use their talents and energy to encourage others to support their team. Win or lose, rain or shine, mascots are there to support their team, no matter what.
Key Topics:
America, USA, mascots, support system, teamwork, school spirit, citizenship, patriotism, encouragement, relationship skills


Any type of fishing takes patience, but fly-fishing in particular requires diligence. Anglers have to move carefully so they don't spook the flighty trout. Anglers also have to keep trying multiple types of fly patterns to attract these picky-eater fish. Care and persistence are two skills that will help our students overcome obstacles as they learn and grow. When these skills are combined, we call that diligence.

Key Topics:
Montana, fishing, fly-fishing, trout, persistence, grit, tenacity, care, self-management, slow down, pay attention


When someone else's best is different from our best, it can be easy to become discouraged that we aren't as good or to become arrogant if we see ourselves as better than others. Either way, the easy route is not the respectful route. Respect means being thankful for our teammates and their skills. That means being thankful for their differences from us. If someone else on our team is faster, stronger, or smarter than we are, that's a good thing! It means our team has a mixture of skills and abilities that will help us all achieve our best.

Key Topics:
respect for others, Oregon, running, track and field, teamwork, celebrating differences, diversity, social awareness, cooperation


What do we do when we want to know more about something? Ask questions! Whether we ask a person in the room with us or the Internet, questions are how we start to learn more when we are curious about a topic.

This method can be used to ask serious questions like: How does gravity work? Or it can be used to ask fun questions like: How does a team from a tropical island practice for a bobsled event? Curiosity and questions help us learn about the world around us.

Key Topics:
bobsled, curiosity, Jamaica, questions, try new things, open minded, learning, growth mindset, education, motivation


Sports are a great way to build relationships with other people because they encourage important social skills like compassion, empathy, and kindness. Empathy means understanding and caring about another person's feelings. When we comfort a friend after they lose a game because we know what it feels like to lose, we're expressing empathy. Sports like pickleball, which focuses on accessibility for players of all levels, are great for fostering empathy.

Key Topics:
pickleball, Seattle, Washington, empathy, caring, compassion, social awareness, understanding, respect for differences, tolerance, kindness


Punctuality is important in most areas of life because being on time is one way that we show respect for others. In sports, punctuality helps us arrive on time for practice, but it also helps us get to our spot on the field (or in the pool) when we need to. For example, timing is everything in synchronized swimming. If even one team member is late at some point in the choreography, the whole team's score goes down. Everyone has to be serious about being on time if the team is going to succeed.

Key Topics:
punctuality, respect for others, on time, Germany, swimming, choreography, rhythm, preparation, teamwork



Stephen Mackey, CEO & Founder

Stephen Mackey is a player development coach, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal best-selling author, and founder of 2Words Character Development, one of the top Leadership and character curriculums in the country. Building on the Six Pillars of a Championship Character – Toughness, Integrity, Belief, Excellence, Effort, and Service – Mackey equips teams and organizations to elevate their performance by building a culture of character.
Patrick Jones - Course author