Three weeks ago, I had the chance to spend a weekend with the Big South SAAC leadership members in Charlotte. Having the chance to work with the Big South for the past two years, in full disclosure, I’m biased, but I believe they are leaders in developing their SAAC leadership. For this weekend, there was special focus on the role of SAAC related to prospective NCAA legislation, its impact on campus and how best to review the legislation with other SAAC members and the student-athletes as a whole.

As much as I enjoyed being a fly on the wall for these discussions, Game Plan’s role for the weekend was to facilitate Game Plan’s Athletics Identity Workshop.

It’s no secret that an athlete’s identity is consumed by their athletic experiences. What is not discussed nearly enough are the challenges athletes faces during major life transitions. As an athlete approaches a major transition such as:

  • High school to college athletics
  • College to the real world
  • Entering professional athletics

During these times, self-reflection becomes critically important.

Through years of research and experience working with thousands of college and professional athletes, we know anxiety for athletes can peak during these times of transition.

Game Plan’s Next Play Pro (NPP) assessment helps an athlete and their stakeholders best understand the athlete’s true connection point to athletics.

From our research and development process, we now know athletes have 8 identity characteristics of which one to two will primarily define that individual’s personality.

Like a Myers Briggs assessment quantifies extroverts and introverts, Game Plan’s NPP illustrates an athlete’s connection to:

☗ Identity: Individuals with a high score on identity tend to have limited numbers of hobbies and interests outside of their sports, have trouble thinking of themselves in roles not related to their sports, and limit their social circles to those involved in, or associated with, their sport.

☗ Support: Individuals with a high score on support tend to have difficulty remembering, planning, and prioritizing daily tasks, lack familiarity with and skills required for completing basic life “to-dos”, and occasionally feel a sense of helplessness when it comes to understand and completing everyday jobs.

☗ Structure: Individuals with a high score on structure tend to struggle or feel lost without built-in structure in their lives, have trouble establishing and maintaining work-life balance, and over-schedule and “double-book” activities, promoting stress and/or burnout.

☗ Stewardship: Individuals with a high score on stewardship tend to seek advice of a mentor or authority figure before forming their own opinion, feel unprepared to make important decisions without input from someone else, and are unsure about what actions to take unless they first see someone else function in a similar situation, or get advice from a mentor or authority figure on how to proceed.

☗ Camaraderie: Individuals with a high score on camaraderie tend to experience a sense of loss when separated from former teammates, become lonely after leaving the athletic setting, struggle to replicate the bond they had with their former teammates

☗ Status: Individuals with a high score on status tend to have difficulty adjusting to being treated like everyone else (e.g. no perks or recognition), experience trouble adapting to a world in which their needs / desires don’t trump those of others and are surprise to find that not everyone is impressed by, or interested in, their athletic background.

☗ Competition: Individuals with a high score on competition are focused on competing, even in non-competitive activities, prioritize winning outcomes over process and relationships, and are dispassionate about activities that do not involve competition.

☗ Feedback: Individuals with a high score on feedback tend to have others’ approval, rather than objective standards, as a primary goal, second-guess their performance and decision in work and social situations, and demonstrate uncertainty in decision-making and problem-solving.

The NPP assessment tool allows stakeholders to move from high level engagement to reaching the athlete at a unique, individual level.

Game Plan is performing these workshops to complement our software platform. If you are interested in learning more about athletic identity and even helping your athlete’s learn more about their own identity, please let us know – we would love to share more about our work with you!

To learn more, please contact Dalton at