How a mental skills coach can help with the transition to life after sports
This week I want to talk about the side to a mental skills coach that is not often heard about or discussed. When talking about a mental skills coach we often talk about how they can help an athlete on the field, but their work is just as important to what is going on with the athlete off the field. One area in particular is the transition all athletes have to make at some point to life after sports. Recently there have been a number of NFL players who have decided to step away from the game and retire at a very early age, before they had to. Each of the players decisions were for various reasons, but the bottom line is that all of them in their early 20’s were willing and able to step away. This has created a buzz because for a long time this wouldn’t have been the case. The athletes would have kept playing until their bodies no longer allowed them to. For some this was the reason they stepped away, they want to have a long healthy life and felt they needed to move on from football in order to do so.
There are some people who are calling these decisions brave, and when you look at them they are. One of the hardest things for an athlete to do is to step away from the game that has been their identity for most of their life. This is the case whether the athlete steps away after high school or after a long professional career. I personally made the decision to step away earlier than needed, but it was done because I wanted my body to last, was important for my mental health and felt that it was also time to move on to the next thing in my life. Even though I knew I could never make a living off of my sport, the desire to play and reach the highest level of competition was there, but there was a voice telling me it was time to move on. The fact that I had a plan helped a lot, and the issue for most athletes is that they do no have a plan in place for what they are going to do after they stop playing.
At some point you have to think about your life after your sport, the sooner you do so, the easier that transition will be, no matter how long you end up playing for. If you are at that point where you are not sure if you should walk away or not, or are struggling with life after sports, it is important to find a professional to work with to help you deal with the emotions, and circumstances that are associated with such a major life transition. Contact us if you have questions about how we can help.