Having had the great fortune of teaching, counseling, and mentoring literally thousands of athletes in my career, one of the toughest things for me to watch is when an athletic career ends and the athlete (now former athlete) overlooks or disregards the importance of parlaying the athletic experience into new life endeavors and success. More simply, while some athletes use the athletic experience for future life success, far too many others compartmentalize the athletic experience and ultimately do not use it to get ahead in life (AHPS).
There are a few truths that every athlete should think about:
1. Every athletic career will eventually end
2. During this transition the athlete will need to decide how much he or she will cull from his or her previous athletic experiences and apply to future life experiences (including career)
3. Athletic transferable skills, or the skills learned in sports that can be transferred throughout life, are there for every athlete to use and help with future life success
Unfortunately, and likely because the sport retirement transition is often abrupt and unpleasant, the majority of former athletes miss out on the real value of sport participation — that is, to learn invaluable life skills that will help across every life domain, including interpersonal relationships, academics, and career. In other words, sports can serve as a vehicle for future success, rather than an experience that ends when the athlete has played his or her final game.
The point is to remind you to help remind your kids or the kids you coach that the sport experience is actually a “first step” on the road of life, and one that can help trampoline kids into really great future life success! In order for kids to learn this, we must be overt and direct with our teachings and praise, and help kids actively learn the many sport-life connections.
When young people realize that they already have many tools in their possession that will help them in the big picture of life (i.e. athletic transferable skills like motivation, resiliency, focus, developing mental toughness under pressure, and working successfully with teammates), only then will their sport retirement transition become a facilitating step in their life, as opposed to a debilitating one.
You can learn more about the sport retirement transition, as well as how to use athletic transferable skills by checking out Sport Success 360, or The Parents Playbook!