Life after competitive sports

Posted: December 5, 2018

Most competitive athletes will begin playing their sport year-round at a young age and they develop a schedule revolving around their sport that becomes a norm for them. Every week they will go to school, go home and do their homework, then go to their club practices. On the weekends, they will spend most of their days competing with their teammates or driving to and from games and then they are back to school and practices the next week. This becomes even more engrained as athletes get older and move onto higher level teams through high school, college, and professional. In high school, teammates naturally become close friends because they share a similar interest and are already spending lots of time together. College teammates will often live together, and their schedules revolve around training sessions and games to a point they are seeing eachother for multiple hours every day. At the professional level, the sport is their life. It is a 24/7 commitment where they will eat, train, travel, and compete together. In the moment it is great being a part of a team with complete focus on the team and the sport, but a common issue these competitive athletes have, regardless of age or level, is neglecting to think about life once their competitive playing careers are over.

It is important for competitive athletes to think about what they will do once their playing careers are over. For as long as they can remember their sport has been there life and they have become comfortable being surrounded by it. Only a small percent of athletes will go on to play professionally, and even the ones who do will stop playing in their mid to late 30s and then have a whole life ahead of them. Therefore, it is important for athletes to develop necessary skills and plan both mentally and emotionally for the years that follow sports. This can include anything from making contacts outside of the sport world, to developing different skillsets, and gaining useful experience in different fields.  These will help the athlete to transition out of sports and live successful lives. It can be odd and even sad for some athletes following the end of a playing career so it is important for them to productively fill their new-founded free time. This can come in the form of new hobbies, a new job, more school, or even coaching or playing recreationally. Athletes are used to being busy so continuing this trend will make the transition easier. Developing well-rounded athletes from an early age will give them the necessary skill sets to successfully transition and strive following the end of their playing careers.  


Tim Kilpatrick is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest, CA.