Deciding when to retire from sport is difficult for every athlete. It is OK to decide to retire from sport even if you have not completed all of your goals on paper. Maybe your goal was to go to the Olympics, but you have ‘only’ raced at worlds and sport just isn’t making you happy anymore.
The key consideration when evaluating your sport career is to understand the purpose that sport has served you.
Are you happy? Will you be happy if you stay in sport? What purpose has sport given you? Has that purpose been fulfilled?
Asking yourself questions like these is a much more effective (and healthier) way of understanding the role sport has played in your life (compared to evaluating result-based achievements).
Reasons to NOT leave sport:
All of the above issues can be changed. Reaching out for help from a coach, advisor, or professional can aid you in solving these issues. The decision to leave sport should not be based on an external factor.
Reasons to leave sport:
Athletes should strive to retire from sport when they feel accomplished and fulfilled. A graduated athlete should want to leave their sport with gratitude and a desire to give back. Overall, an athlete should avoid leaving their sport for negative reasons. Moving on from sport with a positive outlook will allow athletes to look back fondly on their time in high performance sport, leaving them open to coming back to continue participation. (See Stage 3)
What to do once you’ve decided to leave sport: