I played professional basketball overseas and it was one of the best times of my life. The transition after retirement was not too hard for me but I know others who had a difficult time. Some retire by choice and some it was due to injury. Regardless it ends for each and every one of us too early, so coming to terms with this is not always a smooth process.
Psychological it may relate to a loss of identity, something that has defined us for so long over in a day, heap of hours spent on the gridiron or hardwood doesn’t help either. The stretching routing, icing and highs and lows of our season was a regular occurrence that is not easy to let go of. Every single moment we had was dedicated to this sport and we had to be at our tip top shape, so what now?
I was lucky because I had other passions: cars and real estate, so my competitive nature was simply transferred from one avenue, putting a ball in the hoop at a high level, to selling multimillion dollar homes. They aren’t really that far apart, both are done under high stress and expectation, every part of the game (or in the case of real estate, every part of the sale requires top performance.
So what are my tips for athletes to avoid the feeling of being lost and confused after their sports career ends? Below are some basic thoughts to help athletes start thinking about how to transition into a post athletic career.
- Prepare Early– Athletes have to realize that preparing for life after sports should really begin the minute that they start playing sports. Sports don’t last forever, so athletes must acknowledge this early on and be taught as soon as possible, to pursue other interests off the playing field. They should start by discovering what they’re most passionate about and research ways to potentially turn it into a career. Furthermore, they should try as many new things as they possibly can. Gaining knowledge and experience in different skills will help them tremendously in the long run.
- Rely On Relationships– Athletes should start leveraging their network while they are still playing sports. They shouldn’t wait until it’s over to reach out to people and make connections. They have to start talking to teachers, counselors, or anyone else that might be able to help them. Reaching out to family members and close friends to inquire about their career paths and why they choose to do what they do won’t hurt either. The more they develop and use their relationships, the greater these relationships will serve them during this transition process.
- Get Help From Others– Athletes should get help from external sources such as career coaches, business coaches or advisors to help them make the transition. Having someone who is unbiased and focused on them every step of the way can make this change a lot easier. After you leave college, many coaches, and administrators sadly won’t do much to help you. They are busy with current students and have many other obligations to worry about. Family members, even though they are great resources, may give you inaccurate information at times or persuade to do something you don’t necessarily feel is right for you. Find someone who fits your needs, and whose entire goal is to serve you to the best of their ability.
For athletes, making the transition to life after sports will never be easy, but by doing the little things listed above, it’ll definitely take some pressure off of their shoulders when going through it. The key is to take it one step at a time and be as patient as possible. Always remember, there is no such thing as an overnight success on the playing field, or off it.
original article: huffpost.com