Similar to goal setting, an exit strategy can serve as a helpful resource to transitioning athletes.
Some things to consider when deciding to transition from sport:
We learn to set goals all throughout our sport career. These goals are usually performance-based and quantitative. (2km times, race results, team ranking, level of competition, etc.)
However, there are two types of goals athletes often forget to consider:
1) Qualitative goals in sport
2) Goals when exiting sport
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).
“Proactive coping is really important. So, not waiting until after you’re experiencing the transition to deal with it, but to have some pre-retirement planning.” (Erin Reifsteck)
What is athletic identity?
“Athletic identity can be defined as the degree to which you identify with your sport. It’s the loss of this identity, developed over years, that makes transition to “real life” such a challenge.
Because you have focused so much on your sport and given everything you have to be the best athlete you can be, finding something else that gives you a similar challenge can be difficult. For professional athletes and Olympians, the time commitment is year-round, and the sacrifices required make it a 24/7 job.”