Most professional athletes think they are going to compete forever. It doesn’t matter if they make $20,000 a year or $2,000,000, they think they are on the path to the top or they think they are going to stay on top. This is normal. The athletes wouldn’t have gotten to the point where they are being paid to play a sport without elite drive, confidence, and skill.
However, sometimes life gets in the way. Whether it be old age, an injury, financial need, inability to find employment, or some other reason, something will cause a professional athlete to transition away from their sport at some point, and normally this “point” will sneak up on the athlete.
It is at this time that the athlete needs to be prepared for the next step in order to hit the ground running, because let’s face it, that is what athletes want to do. The same characteristics that helped the athlete achieve their position in their sport are the same characteristics that make them attractive employees.
It sounds great in theory, but many times athletes can’t hit the ground running because they didn’t do anything to prepare themselves for life after sport, and as a result they get stuck in limbo, lacking direction or purpose. In order to avoid a difficult transition, athletes need to plan for the day the ball stops bouncing at the very beginning of their professional career. There are a number of ways an athlete can do this, and they mainly involve taking advantage of the great opportunities their status as a professional athlete affords them. They include:
- Personal Assessment
- Relevant Experience
- Continuous Learning
- Mentor/Mentee Relationship
In the following weeks, I will delve into each of these things more specifically. Hopefully, this will help some professional athlete somewhere as they progress through their athletic career and through the transition that is retirement.