Career transitions can pose unique challenges for athletes. Change may be unexpected, in the case of a career-ending injury, for instance, or it may be due to an active choice to pursue a different pathway. However, even when a pivot is planned, athletes may face challenges associated with finding their identity and purpose outside of the all-encompassing world of sport. The good news is that athletes have numerous transferable skills, and with support, can move onward to other satisfying career opportunities.
These programs, guides, job boards and more can help support your clients and students navigating a pivot from an athletic career.
If there’s a resource you think we should include in this article or a future follow-up, comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Athlete Career Transition (ACT) [Program]
ACT offers a comprehensive transition program for athletes at all stages of their career. Although it is a UK-based organization, it appears to offer international services. The ACT Transition Support Programme includes assessment tools and expert feedback. ACT also works to build connections to companies that value athletic experience to create opportunities specifically for retiring professional athletes.
The Athlete Career Transition Network is a LinkedIn group that brings together professional athletes and leaders in sport and business. This secure group is intended to provide an open forum for athletes to discuss their career transition challenges and allow leaders from the world’s largest organizations to provide insight and expertise on what employers look for, and how athletes can transfer their existing skills and knowledge to the corporate workplace.
Career After Sport has 13 workbooks on topics including Career Decision Making, Athletic Identity, Education and Action Plan. The workbooks aim to help athletes develop marketable job skills, increase their resilience, set realistic and actionable goals, establish a framework of support and build a professional network to make the transition easier.
Game Plan, supported by Deloitte, is a program that aims to support Canada’s national team athletes to live better and more holistic lives. Its Career page includes a directory of athlete-friendly organizations, featured job opportunities, athlete testimonials and advisor contact information. It also offers information about education – including post-secondary institutions that provide academic planning for athletes – and skill development.
This blog from Athlete Network features articles and videos on a wide variety of topics, such as: Why athletes succeed in sales careers, Top tips for athletes to prepare for a job interview and How to build a game plan for life after sports.
In Personal Next, former Olympic athlete Melinda Harrison examines the difficulties people may face after reaching what seemed to be the height of their careers. Through interviews with more than 100 elite athletes and other high achievers who navigated a major life transition, Harrison distills nine key practices that support a successful pivot to a new arena.
This guide identifies key transferable skills for student athletes, suggests potential career pathways, and also offers resume and interview tips.
The 5 Stage Pathway [Online course]
This online course to help athletes create a fulfilling “life after sport” is offered by Nate Leslie, a BC-based Certified Executive Coach. It includes five stages: 1. Identity Reflection; 2. Unleash Superpowers; 3. Your Sweet Spot; 4. Financial Literacy; and 5. Execution Time. Packages are offered that pair the course with coaching.
The Front Office [Job board]
Although not all athletes may be interested in working in sports after they retire from competing, some may find it to be a good fit. The Front Office features job postings for anyone interested in working in Canadian sports, from finance to developing programs to working concession stands.
Thrive After Sports [Podcast]
In this podcast, professional athlete transition specialist Taj Dashaun speaks to former athletes about their career pathways, with the aim of helping athletes discover their new identity and life’s direction after sports.
Transitions from Athletic Careers (CERIC) [Literature search]
Although it was last updated in 2017, career professionals and researchers interested in athletic career transition will still find valuable background information in these articles. Topics covered include: career transition and transferable skills; employment expectations for injured athletes; mental health issues in transition; early second career planning; and career transition training for athletes.
In this CareerWise article, Katrina Monton shares her story of what it was like to retire from competing as a professional water polo player. Monton, who now has a Master’s in Counselling Psychology, also offers advice for athletes transitioning into other career pathways.
WorkInSports.com [Job board]
This job board features employment opportunities in the sports industry. WorkInSports also has a blog that shares career advice, industry tips, podcast interviews with industry professionals and more.
- A student-athlete’s guide: Competing to get a job (NCAA)
- Athlete transition is more than just finding a job (YourMindset)
- Career Transition From Athlete To Lawyer: Interview With Andréanne Morin (LawInSport)
- From hero to human, athletes struggle with transition when playing career ends (CBC)
- Game over: how professional athletes can have a career after sport (The Conversation)
- How Being a Student-Athlete Helped Me Find a Job (HubSpot)
- How sport-life balance contributes to athletic career transition and overall sport performance (CERIC)
- Life after the Olympics: athletes struggle with what to do next (The Globe and Mail)
- My Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir of Struggle and Triumph (Perdita Felicien) [Book]
- Now what am I? When it’s game over for athletes (CERIC)
- Sport career transition: Strengths, challenges and innovations over time (CERIC)
- Team Canada athletes on transitioning from the sports world to the business world (Olympic.ca)
- What professional sports can teach us about career transitions (Forbes)
- What next? How athletes can transition into the working world (GlobalSports)