Life After Sports: Injuries, Interruptions and The End of Competition | Collage and Wood

Life After Sports For Athletes: Resources For Families

Life after sports. Is that a thing?

life after sports: navigating injuries, interruptions and the end of competition.

It's no secret that life after sports can be tough for athletes.

This includes athletes from all levels: professional athletes, college athletes, and anyone who considers their athletic identity the biggest part of who they are.

The transition from a life of intense competition and regimented schedules to one of relative normalcy is often difficult.

For many athletes, life after sports can be a major adjustment - both mentally and emotionally.

In this blog post, we will explore the challenges that athletes face when making the transition to life after sports, and we will offer some tips on how to cope with these challenges.

One of the biggest challenges that athletes face after retiring from sports is adjusting to life without competition.

Mental Health Resources For Athletes

If you or someone you love needs help managing your mental health, please see your family physician immediately or consider these online resources:

For many elite athletes, competition is a major motivator and source of satisfaction.

When competitive sports end, elite athletes lose this key motivator and can feel lost and directionless.

This can lead to feelings of boredom, loneliness, and depression.

how to help your athlete navigate time away from sports
“There’s no better time than now to work on your mental game. What makes you “you” whether a ball bounces or a game is played?"
Bryn Drescher

In addition to adjusting to life without competition, athletes must also adjust to a new routine.

Former athletes often have a hard time transitioning from a life of regimented schedules and strict rules to one of freedom and flexibility.

This can lead to feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. It is important for athletes to take the time to figure out what works best for them and to establish a new routine that is both meaningful and fulfilling.

Making the transition from the title of College athletes and Professional athletes to "just regular people" is tough.

Additionally, athletes must also deal with the emotional aftermath of life after competition. Many athletes experience a range of emotions after retiring, including sadness, anger, frustration, and disappointment. It is important to give yourself time to grieve the end of your athletic career and to accept the fact that life has changed. It is also important to find new outlets for your energy and passion.


Life After Sports, Female Track Athlete

If you are struggling to adjust to life after sports, here are a few tips that may help:


  • Seek out support from friends and family members. They can be a valuable source of support during this difficult time.

  • Find new activities and hobbies to occupy your time. This can help you adjust to life without sports.

  • Talk to a therapist or counselor. They can help you deal with the emotional aftermath of the end of a sporting career.

  • Take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Exercise, eat healthy, and get enough sleep. These things will help you feel better emotionally and physically.

  • Connect with other athletes making the transition. Michigan State University has a great athlete mental health resource here for retired athletes and student athletes who are leaving sport. 

Making the transition to life after sports can be difficult, but it is possible to overcome the challenges.

With patience and perseverance, you can find a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.

The end of organized sports competition

life after a sports injury.

First, regarding the response of athlete performance after having a long break:  

“As we see some athletes step away, some athletes may go wild from a performance perspective.”   - Unknown

Many times, when athletes come back to play after an unforeseen break or injury, a greater passion returns as well!

They may have had time to rest and reflect on the things that were important to them outside of their sport.

“Do the most you can with what you have.”

Coach Brant Minor

When you lose access to facilities to work out, teammates, and competition, it can be tough to adjust and stay motivated.

Suddenly all of the free time athletes have is now occupied with finding a new way to occupy their time. 

Many professional and competitive student athletes struggle with this concept because their identity was so closely aligned with being an athlete. They aren't sure who they are without their sport.

“My hope for [this time lost] is that athletes become much better students of the game. We need more students of the game.”

 Jerron Rhodes

Become a student of the game when you can't play it! Watch old games, documentaries, or anything to continue learning about the sport.

Stay connected with your teammates and former coaches.

They can be a great support system as you transition away from sports - or into a new role as a coach or mentor for younger athletes.

life after sports: how to handle playing interruptions and breaks.

As a participant in competitive sports, you have a unique set of life skills.

“I do some mentorship - great leaders see something in someone and pull that out. Being able to see that gift and identify it."  - Unknown

“Not taking anything for granted. Take our gratitude up a level. So many great people in this room, [in this world].”

Jerron Rhodes

Don't be afraid to start over.

Many athletes feel like they have to go into coaching or working in the sports industry when they retire.

That's not always the case!

You can use your skills and experience from playing a sport to pursue other passions. You can lead in many ways outside of sports.

Rediscovering your identity outside of sports

Life after sports: the end of competition

“Help them differentiate their talent from their gift. The gift will be there for life. That’s what they will give to the world.”  

“The gift will take them places that the talent never could. Your gift is as special as your fingerprint.”


 - Josh Young


Hitting the ground running after a career in sports is often not easy.

Athletes often have to adjust to life outside of the game, which can be difficult.

Making a successful transition from athlete to "normal person" includes the struggle with finding a new identity after their playing days are over.

Helping athletes understand that these feelings are normal is important and they come to terms with their athletic identity vs. their true identity.

They spent so much time focusing on their sport that they may not know what to do with themselves when it's taken away.

This can lead to a lot of frustration and disappointment.

Help your athlete to remember that they have other talents and gifts outside of their sport.

They can focus on these other aspects of their lives and find new ways to contribute to the world.

There are many opportunities out there for them, they just need to be open to exploring them, and give themselves grace and time to adjust to their new life outside of their sport.

With the right attitude and outlook, athletes can thrive in their new lives.

how to help your athlete navigate time away from sports
What if sports was just one way to express our purpose? It’s not about the external validation. Get the focus away from results by focusing on the talents and gifts."
Saana Koljonen


How can parents support their kids when their sports career is over?

how can parents help their kids navigate away from sports?

It's important for athletes to have a solid support system in place as they make the transition from sports to the real world.

Friends and family can help them adjust to their new life and provide a listening ear when they need it.

“One of the best things my parents did after every season:
are you still enjoying this?
Do you still want to play?
It allowed me to make my own decisions.
As I make my life as a parent, I hope to give my kids the same.”
- Unknown



Every kid and athlete needs to be reassured that their parents will still love them even if they aren't a star athlete.

Tips for parents with senior athletes

It's hard enough to make the transition from childhood to adulthood, but it can be even more challenging for athletes who are used to being in the spotlight.

“What if things aren’t going well? Will you still be there when I’m not winning? When I’m not playing?” 
Jerron Rhodes

Some face an identity crisis after their playing days are over.

They struggle to find a new purpose in life and can feel lost without the camaraderie of teammates and the thrill of competition.

Some athletes struggle with depression and anxiety after their sports careers are over. They may feel like they have no control over their lives now that they're no longer playing ball.

Why sports matter so much 

Many people ask this question. Why do sports matter so much to us?

"Sports are unifying. They can bring us together."

Coach Brant Minor

Some say it is because sports are a way to escape the real world. Others claim that sports are a way to build character and teach teamwork.

Sports provide us with an opportunity to cheer for our favorite team or player. They give us a sense of community and allow us to connect with others who share our passion.

Sports can also be a way to relieve stress and forget about our problems for a while.

We all need something to cheer for, and that is why sports matter so much.

“Stay curious to what could be.”

 - Saana Koljonen

Many athletes face a tough transition after their sports careers are over.

This is normal.

They may have difficulty finding a new identity, coping with injuries, and adjusting to a life without the structure of sports.

It can be especially challenging for athletes who have been in the spotlight for most of their lives.

If you are an athlete who is facing a tough transition, there are many resources available to help you. The best thing you can do is stay positive and keep moving forward.

Making the transition from competition: understanding the stages of griefThere is life after sports, and you can create a successful future for yourself.
The future may be uncertain but who I want to be is not." - Obinna Agomo
Please read our article about the stages of grief and the end of sports.

FAQs about life after sports:

How do you adjust to life after sports?

There's no one answer to that question, as the transition varies depending on the athlete and what level of sport they competed at.

But for many, the adjustment can be tough.

Some former athletes struggle with finding a new identity now that their life revolves around sports is gone.

They miss the camaraderie of being part of a team, and the competition and adrenaline rush that came with playing their sport.

Others find it difficult to deal with the sudden lack of structure in their lives, or dealing with injuries sustained during their playing days.

Many also have difficulty coping with not being able to earn a living through sports anymore.

It's important for athletes to start planning for life after sports while they're still playing. That way, they can have a better idea of what to expect and how to adjust.

There are plenty of resources available to help athletes make the transition, such as transition programs offered by universities and sport organizations.

Athletes can also speak to their coaches or trainers about what they should do once their playing days are over.

The most important thing is for athletes to be proactive and take the time to plan for their future.

There's no one right way to make the transition, but with some planning and effort, it can be a smooth process.

What do I do after sports?

Making the transition from sports to life can be difficult, but it is not impossible. Here are a few tips to help you make the transition:

  • Set new goals. Once your sport is over, it is important to set new goals for yourself. This can help keep you motivated and focused on what you want to achieve.

  • Find a new passion. Chances are, you have developed some other interests while you were playing your sport. Now is the time to explore those interests and find something that you are passionate about.

  • Stay active. It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle even after your sports career ends. This means staying active and eating healthy foods.

  • Join a support group. There are many groups available for athletes who are transitioning out of sports. These groups can provide support and advice during this difficult time.

Making the transition from sports to life can be challenging, but it is definitely possible. With a little effort, you can find success in whatever you choose to do next. 

Do athletes get depressed after retiring?

This article is meant to be a resource for you but should not be considered medical advice.

If you or someone you love needs help managing your mental health, please see your family physician immediately or consider these online resources:

Yes, some athletes struggle with the transition from sports to "normal" life.

Often, they have difficulty finding a new identity and purpose in their lives outside of athletics.

This can lead to feelings of depression and isolation, like they've lost their sense of purpose and meaning in life.

They no longer have the daily routine of training and competition, and they struggle to find new ways to fill their time.

This can lead to a sense of emptiness and loneliness.

Some athletes also experience a decline in their physical abilities after retiring.

They may no longer be able to participate in the activities they enjoy, or they may feel like they are aging faster than their peers.

This can be discouraging and frustrating.

It's important for athletes to remember that the transition from sports to "normal" life is not easy for everyone.

It takes time to find new hobbies, interests, and relationships.

It's also important to accept that your physical abilities may change after retiring and that this is okay. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time to adjust.

There is no right or wrong way to live your life after sports.

Just find what works best for you and go for it!

How does sport affect your life?

Some athletes find it helpful to talk to someone about their feelings and struggles.

Others find that writing down their thoughts and feelings can help them process everything that is happening.

It is important for athletes to remember that it is ok to feel sad or frustrated after their sport. It is a natural reaction to all that has happened.

However, it is important to also focus on the positives and what you can do moving forward.

There are many different paths an athlete can take after their sport.

It is important to find something that you are passionate about and that makes you happy. Don't be afraid to try new things and explore different options.

The journey after sport can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. It is up to you to make the most of it. Remember to stay positive and focus on the future.

There is life after sport, and it can be great!

If you found this information helpful or inspiring, please share with a friend. Also share with coaches and athletes who may benefit from these words of encouragement regarding life after sports! Make sure you check out some of these thought leaders by clicking their name and viewing more about them on Instagram.

I hope this article blesses you as it continues to bless me. Until next time,


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