15 years in high-performance sport certainly teaches you some valuable life lessons. Quite often in the past, athletes have struggled to transition out of sport, but thankfully over the last 5-years there has been a lot of funding and resources put towards making this process more seamless and creating a better network of support for athletes. Today I wanted to focus on a few skills that I believe are extremely transferrable into life outside of sport, and set athletes up for success in their 'next life'.
As an athlete, you are constantly thrown curveballs that you have to overcome. Challenges such as injury, change in coach, relocation, missed selection, poor performance, life imbalance, are all circumstances that build resilience. I've never met an athlete who hasn't had to dig deep to overcome a large challenge in their career.
Most athletes are extremely coachable and easily accept constructive criticism, making them adaptable and great at taking direction. Take this into the workplace, and when dealt with an obstacle, these skills become so necessary and favourable.
High performing athletes are goal-focused and task-driven. Across their career, they constantly work towards achievement, and to gain success it's important to train efficiently and effectively. The ability to work with focus towards a specific task is certainly translatable into the workforce. Companies rely on high productivity, so the commitment and work ethic of an athlete is such an advantage.
Motivation, drive, and discipline are three qualities of a successful athlete. It takes dedication and an intense passion to get the best out of oneself. It's well accepted that success isn't handed out on a platter. You must work hard, in pursuit of your goals. From personal experience, it's very clear that being prepared and working hard will lead to success, whereas knowing you haven't put in the work will make it difficult to achieve peak performance- and you are the person who has to accept accountability.
Crossing over to the workforce, athletes can be trusted to put in the work. After all, it is ingrained in us!
In summary, when I think of athlete transition, I think people may leave their sport with not all of the qualifications of their counterparts in a workplace, but they make up for it in the transferable qualities they have developed across their high performing career. The correlation of those skills to finding success in life after sport is undeniable.