Retirement can be one of the hardest moments of an athlete. Life, as they know it, changes completely. This is a time to say goodbye to the ovation of the crowds, the excitement produced by victory, the solidarity among team-mates and the triumphs won in competitions. Some might feel loneliness, depression, discouragement and struggle with a low self-esteem. But the truth is that when athletes do retire it is not the end, but the beginning of a new professional era. After recovering from that initial shock, they can still live a most productive professional life.
That initial shock…
The adaptation process of retired athletes to their out-of-sports life should not be dealt with after retirement, but it should be anticipated. It is recommended is to begin working on this matter between 2 to 3 years before retirement actually happens. Retirement from any sport generates challenges that need to be weighed by the athletes, challenges related to their future and the opportunity to address new goals. This stage can be a positive experience and can generate new professional opportunities if you work properly on it. Not all elite athletes have generated enough income to live off of their income indefinitely. Coaching or counseling is a tool of great help for athletes in order to face this new stage because it helps them reconsider their motivation. It also provides guidance in professional or academic choices, and decreases the impact of the change involving family and social support. Besides, the preparation stage will help athletes cope with mental and emotional issues that might arise due to the retirement phase and replace the feelings of failure, guilt and anonymity resulting from the interpretation of some of the causes of the retreat.
Former athletes can gain control over their emotional reactions and get involved successfully in daily life, avoiding as anxiety, depression and even psychosomatic symptoms related to a wrong management of this crucial stage.
Favorite Choices: More Sports…
Talking about choices, it is not a surprise that many former athletes choose a career that is still related to their sport. You can take your passion for sports and dedicate your efforts to a sports-related-profession. The most commonly preferred professions among ex-athletes in the sports field are:
- Coaching: The first option responds to the desire of an ex-athlete to transmit their knowledge to the new generations through becoming a coach figure. Being an assistant coach is a good way to start your way up. The aim is to become the head coach, for example, of a major college team.
- Sports Entity or Sports-Related Company Management: Concerning the management and direction of sports entities, the specific technical knowledge that athletes have on their particular expertise, and contacts of course, in addition to prior training will open doors for them in places of leadership.
- Sports Medicine: Helping a current athlete optimize his/her sports performance, prevent or overcome an injury is a rewarding professional choice. Consider working as a sports medicine physician or nurse and provide healthcare for athletes.
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Diversifying Profiles: Redirecting
The potential career path for an athlete does not have to be limited to the area of sports. Believe it or not, the qualities that help a person succeed in sports are easily transferable to business, company management or entrepreneurship. There are cases of athletes who decided to join the business world by starting their own firm. Because of their competitive nature, athletes always want to challenge themselves, either in sports or in business. A company also can benefit from former athletes who are full of proactivity and talent. These are people who appreciate team work, want to win and work hard. Additionally, these are people who are used to dealing with a lot of pressure and have more life experience than a typical college graduate.
If you have qualities like perseverance, desire for continuous improvement, strategic thinking and excellence, you have what it takes to be hired by employers in today’s competitive market. They are searching for professionals who have qualities that are basically learned in athletics, if you think about it. Athletes who have excelled in sports were consistently facing situations that required quick thinking, working under pressure and resilience.
In conclusion, it is comforting to know that there is a wide variety of career options in the sports field and out of it that can receive the input of all the experience former athletes have had during their athletic career. Self-examination to determine personal skills and likes can help the decision making process of a new career that will bring new victories in the retirement stage.
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