Retirement is up to 40 or even 30 years. This is a dream for many, but a harsh reality for most athletes. The body and mind can only go so far into a sporting career, and once, the athlete faces a new challenge. What should I do now?
The reason for retirement can be the natural end of a long and enjoyable career, or it may be premature when the athlete is forced out because of injury, rejection or financial reasons. Whatever the reason, there is a transition that the athlete must undergo to adapt to a new way of life. It took me three times to finally get out of the sport.
The first time I retired, because I achieved my goal to play at the Olympics and thought that in sports there is nothing to do. The second time I retired, I thought I was getting old (37 y.o), and I had to take care of my back (the screws held it together with “92”). I continued to go in for sports because this is what I loved and was good. When I retired the third time, at the age of 41, it was for the right reasons – I had a new passion and new goals, which finally convinced me to remove the bathing suit forever.
Each athlete will have his reasons for retirement, return or even exercise. I think it is essential that a person wisely takes into account their motivation for both: is it positive and something that they want to do, or is it motivated by pain, moves away from an undesirable situation, for example, because of the lack of success outside of sports. The presence of a positive direction for moving forward is inevitably a more stimulating motivation that gives results.
Self-assessment issues can contribute to difficulties. A sports career gives many regular rewards and reviews that do not occur in everyday unsportsmanlike life.
When I first explored this after my retirement in 2000 from Beach Volleyball, I gave interviews to several athletes in Western Australia, where I was founded at that time. One retired man reflected that she missed “the daily commitment, improving things and constant reminder, creating this positive driving force.”
Many athletes agree that the presence of a new goal or focus facilitates the transition. Confusion both with the decision to retire and with what to do next, hinders the process. The circumstances of the person determine the answer to retirement. It seems that everyone is going through a state of confusion and must accept this as a necessary part of the process. Even those who are prepared, still face a sharp decline. The transition does not happen quickly, and this can be a shock to the athletes, and they may need coaching in this process.
The uncertainty of the future is sometimes exacerbated by the apparent lack of appropriate qualifications and experience in the athlete. Nevertheless, it is essential to understand that there are many qualities and skills obtained from participation in sports at a high professional level. They must be recognized and then “sold” to a potential employer.
Retirement due to injury creates more problems associated with this process and prolonging it. Many can persist in looking back at the past and thinking about the opportunities that are missed and thinking “I could …”. The lack of selection in a large team can also create problems. Some athletes may postpone retirement in this case to fulfill their dreams but instead, lead to further emotional pain.
Support is needed to move forward. This support can be obtained from family and friends, or it can be associated with professional help – escort, career guidance or even a coach. Athletes are used to trainers in their sport, so why not continue training in life to help them track, motivate and work on new goals.
In addition to the new goals and coach, I believe that an important key to a successful transition is a person. When I learned more about the mentality, I realized that my personality was wrapped up in an athlete, and as long as it remained, I always returned to my sport. Once I learned to identify myself as something new – a business person and an entrepreneur, it was easy to change my actions, my results and therefore my life. What new identity can the athlete take to ensure success in a new way?
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