Athletic Identity & Athlete Retirement

I spend a lot of time thinking about the transition that occurs when individuals end their athletic careers. Things like: What happens during the transition…what it means emotionally for the person...how it affects the individual’s lifestyle…what we can be doing more of to support people as they go through the process, etc.  Despite the fact that I’ve personally experienced this transition (and currently work with individuals as they go through it) there is still much that I don’t know.

I would argue that biggest portion of this entire process deals with the concept of athletic identity and how a person manages the changes related to it. I’ve written briefly on this before and think it’s quite critical to paint a better picture of the emotions, thoughts and feelings a person experiences as they go through this change in their life.

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Why Personal Development in Athletics Needs to Start Early

One of my previous blog posts addressed the need to provide additional support for professional athletes as they retire from athletics. This is something I believe at my core. The more I continue to think about it, the more I believe we can do a better job of developing athletes as individuals across all levels of athletics. Investing in the personal development of athletes needs to happen earlier in the athlete’s career and it is the responsibility of athletic organizations at every level to do this.

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What We Can Learn About Athletic Identity From Michael Phelps

Last week, renowned swim star Michael Phelps returned to competition after a six-months suspension from competition with USA SwimmingThe New York Times published this great article on his initial jump back into the water. In the article, Phelps is quoted about his career and where he’s at now on his new path in life.  

As a retired swimmer, I wonder what got him back in the water. Was it the love of the sport? Did he feel he had something more to prove or accomplish? Or was something just missing? Was swimming the only way to help fill that void? 

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