Creating the Support SystemMay 27, 2020
How Friends & Family Can Support Transitioning Athletes
When athletes retire or graduate and have to leave their sport, a lot changes. They lose their team, they lose their support system and they lose their routine. It can feel like their entire world has shifted. The dream they've worked so hard for their whole life is now over.
While education, networking, goal setting and passion research are all helpful things athletes can do to create opportunities for themselves after the game, it's also important to focus on personal relationships.
Life after sports can be very isolating for athletes. They aren't at the facility anymore. They don't have a schedule waiting for them to show up and follow every day. They don't have their teammates anymore. They are on their own. And many athletes who leave sports just don't know who they can talk to about the challenges they're facing.
As a family member or close friend, it's important to continue to show up. Don't stop reaching out to the former athlete in your life. Stay on top of what he or she is doing now. Congratulate them on their wins and be there to support them through their loses and tough times. Don't disappear.
And while you are staying in touch, remind them of what else they are great at and what else they used to love doing. Get them out of their shell and be there to really listen as they talk about their interests and passions outside of sports. Cheer them on in what's next.
Home life can be tough on families of former athletes. Athletes go from being gone a big chunk of the year, traveling for games and long days at practice to being home all the time. That can be a big change for family members of all ages at home. Be patient. Create routines, and lay out the house rules. You will all have to work together to create what works best for you as a family.
Similar to what we tell athletes about finding what's next, maintaining personal relationships takes a lot of hard work and patience. When an athlete's entire world changes, it's not always easy to adjust. Communicate and stay in touch.
Be an active part of their new team and support system in life after sports.