Guest Post by Annette Lynch
When it comes to thinking about preparing for life after sport, most athletes and their support people, are focusing on what they will DO. What new career can they pursue when they are no longer active in sport? How can they earn money?
Unfortunately, less time is spent is spent on thinking about who they will BE once they are no longer an athlete, and this can be where the greatest difficulty may arise.. “Who am I” is the question they might ask as they face an identity challenge.
Having gone through the transition myself and retiring three times in 6 years after representing Australia at the 2000 Olympics in beach volleyball, I know what athletes go through.
It has been reported that 80% of athletes suffer from some sort of depression post-retirement, a figure supported by a current research study – I was interviewed for this (incomplete) study and the researcher is astounded at the number of elite athletes reporting some form of depression both during and after sport.
This problem is compounded by the fact that athletes think they are the only one going through this, and are ashamed to admit it. They have gone through their sport career wearing an armour of invincibility and the common thought is that – “I should be able to deal with this.”
People don’t want to appear weak, but I think a bigger weakness is not facing one’s challenge and doing something about it.
3 Steps that will help athletes transition are;
- Finding a new passion and new direction – goals that excite the individual as much as their sporting goals did.
- Finding self-belief within for new skills and career – this might need some personal work to re-program an individual’s belief about what they are capable of. I have found some athletes that focused on sport may feel they are not ‘smart’ enough to do anything else. It is the belief, rather than their intelligence that holds them back from pursuing their dreams.
- A key step to overcoming this and finding success beyond sport is expanding one’s identity. To realise that the athlete is so much more than their sport and their past success. Certain exercises can help the athlete see how their skillset allows them to do and be anything they set their mind to.
Life after sport is more than just finding a new career.
Learn more at http://www.successbeyondsport.com
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