The focus in these descriptions will mainly be for baseball, basketball, and American football. It is important to note that Perceivers are more likely to be sports stars. Their ability to adapt to changes on the fly and fluidity of motor movement give them major advantages over the rigidity of Judgers in most sports roles. More in-depth descriptions can be found in Jon Niednagel’s book, Your Key to Sports Success. Non sports descriptions of the different personality types can be found here.
ISTJ – Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging
Coaching legends like John Wooden, Tom Landry, and Mike Krzyzewski. ISTJs don’t typically rise to elite levels on the field or the court, but their meticulous and duty oriented nature makes them comb over every speck of information or detail relevant to their team.
ISTP – Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving
ISTPs play a major role in the history of all of the major sports. They have excelled as coaches and as players. Michael Jordan, Ted Williams, Barry Sanders, and Wayne Gretzky are or were ISTPs. All four are legends in their respective sports. Some examples of ISTP coaches are Jerry Sloan, Bill Cowher, and Jim Leyland. They are so successful in sports because of their rarely matched competitive nature. Once they find an interest, they will strive to be the best in that field. Some of the other personality types typically gravitate to specific positions within their sport, but ISTPs are capable of excelling at any position in any sport. An all-ISTP team for the NBA would look something like John Stockton at point guard, Jordan at the 2, Larry Bird and Moses Malone at the forward positions, and Shaq manning the center. Arguments could be made for a variety of other players as well. ISTPs in the bloodline of the history is a common theme amongst all of the other major sports as well.
ESTP – Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving
While most of the fame of the ESTP can be attributed to NFL Quarterbacks, ESTPs are simply talented athletes. Before ENFP Tom Brady’s emergence on the scene, any Mount Rushmore candidates of NFL Quarterbacks would’ve included 4 ESTPs on any logical person’s ballot. John Elway, Joe Montana, Johnny Unitas, and Dan Marino are just 4 examples of legendary ESTP Quarterbacks. Most successful quarterbacks are extraverted as Es have more energy and it is a highly demanding position on a day to day basis. Their ‘in the moment’ nature also gives them an advantage over intuitives as they look out on the field and see ‘what is’ other than the thousands of different possibilties that ‘could be.’ Ts are less likely to be susceptible to pressure than Feelers. Perceivers excel in positions where they have to adjust on the fly and adapt to what the receivers or defense is giving them on a particular play. These qualities have also meant success in the point guard position in basketball with Steve Nash, for a legendary catcher in Mike Piazza, and also in the front office for people like Danny Ainge.
ESTJ – Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging
If you find a success story of an ESTJ in baseball, they are likely to be a pitcher. Nolan Ryan, Josh Beckett, and John Smoltz are examples of that. Outside of pitching, you rarely find them. ESTJs that make the NBA tend to be bigs, such as Cherokee Parks, Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen, and Kurt Thomas. An All-Star ESTJ is not very likely, but they can be capable of being solid role players. Some ESTJ coaching success stories are Jim Boeheim and George Karl. They are not afraid to speak their mind and hold tightly onto their principles. Boeheim’s long marriage with the 2-3 zone defense is a good example of that.
ISFJ – Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging
ISFJs don’t find much success in sports or simply don’t have much interest participating in sports in the first place. They find happiness in life by nurturing and being there for people and are typically found in nursing or social work. Similarly to the ESTJ, the professional athlete ISFJs are going to be NBA roleplayer bigs. Samuel Dalembert and PJ Brown are two examples.
ISFP – Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving
Typically described by personality typers as The Artist and this looks to be a good description of their play and fluidity as well. ISFPs are able to contort their bodies in ways that most other types are not able to. ISFP Kobe Bryant and his turnaround jumpers personify that pretty well. They are found in the elite tiers of all of the major sports. Every single NBA title winning team of the last 30 years has featured one as one of their top 3 players, with Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, and Scottie Pippen being just some of the notables. Successful baseball playing ISFPs have been Joe Carter and Mark McGwire. In the NFL, their positions of success tend to be at Wide Receiver(Reggie Wayne) or at Quarterback(Warren Moon.) History has shown that their success in the sports arenas doesn’t translate very well into the coaching ranks.
ESFP – Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving
Entertainers deluxe! ESFPs are great showmen and aim to be the life of the party both on and off the field. They litter the skill positions in all major sports. Any list of legends will likely have a fair amount of them. Ken Griffey Jr. and Manny Ramirez are two examples of MLB ESFPs and are two of the best hitters of all time. The two basketball players dueling for best player on the planet right now are the two SF ESFPs in Miami and Oklahoma City. Some of the more notable ESFP football players are Running Backs like Walter Payton and Adrian Peterson, but they really permeate every spot on the field. They are able to maintain their athleticism as they increase their muscle mass and their dominance has only increased as time has gone by with advances in training techniques. While they are great athletes, their in-the-moment and emotional nature can also lead to insane outbursts. Some of the more notable player reactions in history belong to ESFPs like Roberto Alomar in the spitting incident, Ron Artest, Stephen Jackson, and Jermaine O’Neal getting into it with the Detroit Pistons fans, and Dennis Rodman kicking the cameraman under the basket. Like their SFP counterpart, the ISFP, they are not likely to be major coaching successes.
ESFJ – Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging
ESFJs are not typically major successes in sports. They are very warm-hearted and sympathetic people. Their most notable athlete is probably Rasheed Wallace in basketball. He has sort of become a cult-hero in the sport and that may be due to the unique difference from his personality in comparison with a lot of his contemporaries. One ESFJ coach who has reached high levels is Joe Gibbs for the Washington Redskins.
INFJ – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging
It is extremely, extremely rare to find an INFJ in professional sports in any capacity. They are not inclined to be interested in playing sports in the first place and their wiring isn’t advantageous athletically if sports do appeal to them. Two successful INFJ stories are Jim McIlvaine and Chris Dudley in the NBA.
INFP – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving
INFPs in professional sports stand out for their smooth and graceful athletic prowess. While All Star games don’t typically feature rosters stacked with them, a few tend to rise to the peak of professional sports in each generation. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Julius Erving, and Dirk Nowitzki are all top 50 caliber NBA talents. They don’t seem to funnel towards any particular position and can be found in all. Major League baseball legends with this personality type include Roberto Clemente, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter. Idealists by nature, some INFPs will dedicate as much time to social causes that interest them as they will their particular sport. Tony Dungy is a rare example of a successful INFP on two different fronts: coaching and in professional football. The phsyical nature of football is something that tends to frighten these gentle types away from it in the first place.
ENFP – Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving
The Inspirers. One of the most ideal captains to have for a team as they will typically know the right buttons to push because of their intelligence and ability to relate to people on a deep level(their feeling side). The same traits that make them very good at sales and marketing. In baseball, the ENFP success stories are typically found at second base and the outfield. Cecil Fielder and Dwight Gooden are examples of legendary ENFPs in other positions. ENFPs have a grasp of the Wide Receiver position just about as well as the ESTPs have the Quarterback position. Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, and Michael Irvin are just a few of the handful. ENFPs and ENTPs have stormed onto the scene to completely change the outlook and wisdom of previously held Quarterback success beliefs from a personality type basis. Drew Brees and Tom Brady are clearly engulfed in any discussions about the greats now. ENFP big men in basketball can be phenomenally good. David Robinson, Kevin Garnett, and Yao Ming have consistently been All Stars. There are some ENFPs at other positions, but they don’t typically get to All-Star caliber.
While they are great motivators, you don’t tend to see a lot of great ENFP coaches because they don’t like to get bogged down by the minute details and repetitive tasks and coaching is littered with that. They rarely even try to enter coaching.
ENFJ – Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging
Similar to many other personality types, the well known ENFJ basketball players are big men that don’t usually reach elite peaks of the profession. Emeka Okafor, Swen Nater, and Rasho Nesterovic are examples. Unlike some of the others, there is a little more of a hit rate for the ENFJ positional players, though. Arron Afflalo and Martell Webster and their success as swingmen means you can’t write them off at all. Some very solid Quarterbacks have been ENFJs, including Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe, and Elvis Grbac. The best ENFJ baseball players have been Mark Grace and Jeff Kent. Pat Riley and Bill Walsh are the successful ENFJs in sports management, but the field is lacking for them otherwise.
INTJ – Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging
In the entirety of baseball, football, and basketball the standout INTJs are all pitchers. Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and David Cone are just some, though it is rare to see an INTJ kicking around in professional sports. It is on the sidelines where INTJs truly make their mark on professional sports. Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Tony LaRussa are coaches that are widely regarded to be the cream of the crop in the history of management. They are wired to excel in this field because they are detail oriented, intelligent by any definition of the word, and are typically not interested in many things outside of their profession while their sport is in season.
INTP – Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving
The INTP is perhaps the rarest personality type to be found in professional sports, whether it be on the field or in the front office. They are a small percentage of the population and don’t tend to get interested in playing sports. Their success stories are former NBA Center Dikembe Mutombo and legendary NFL Wide Receiver Art Monk. Those are very strong names historically so you do need to do your due diligence if you do run across an INTP with scouting, but it is not normal to come across one in scouting.
ENTP – Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving
If you are at an MLB, NBA, or NFL game, chances are you are watching a handful of ENTPs out there. The same can be said if you are at a movie awards ceremony honoring the best actors. ENTPs are very plentiful and gifted athletically and intelligently. Because they are so numerous in popular culture, the spectrum of their projected personalities can vary drastically. An example of that difference can be seen between Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. One gives off the cool, frat friend vibe and the other the nerdy and technical vibe. You can find them in just about every position in all of the sports and they can be bench players or All Stars. Baseball ENTPs include recent National League MVP Andrew McCutchen, Babe Ruth, and Curt Schilling. ENTPs to have reached the upper echelon of the NFL include WR Larry Fitzgerald, Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck, and Hall of Fame RB Gale Sayers. Their basketball success is interesting. Hall of Fame legends Bill Russell and Bob Cousy are ENTPs and the All Star game typically has a handful of ENTPs. Other than that, there is the lack of a strong ENTP population in the elite echelons(top 100 or so) of the history of the NBA when you consider how often they are found on NBA rosters.
ENTPs with a track record of success in management are NBA coach Chuck Daly, Red Auerbach, and Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. It is very common to see ENTPs in general manager and executive positions.
ENTJ – Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging
The most successful J in sports. Many politicians are ENTJs and this can often manifest itself on the field or court with how tactical they are. Kevin McHale and Pau Gasol are or were very good big men in the NBA and that is where the majority of the successful ENTJs play, but there are the rare cases like Rick Barry in the skill positions that have top notch careers. Greg Maddux on the mound is a great example of how their tactical awareness can allow them to overcome some physical disadvantages. Maddux remained a very effective pitcher as his fastball lost velocity as he had the mental aspects down to a science. Position players to have good baseball careers as an ENTJ are Ryne Sandberg, Paul Molitor, and Carlton Fisk. They are fairly rare in the sport, though. QB and WR are where you will likely find ENTJs in professional football, including Steve Young, Boomer Esiason, Steve Largent, Sterling Sharpe, and Ahmad Rashad.
As politician and CEO types, many ENTJs are known as historically significant coaches. Vince Lombardi, Bill Belichick, Rick Pitino, and John Calipari are ruthless, great recruiters, and brilliant at creating a gameplan.