Sports psychologists say that even though many athletes initially feel relief after finishing their athletic career, some still suffer depression and other mental-health issues for several years.
Personally speaking I believe I suffered from a mild case of depression after my latest knee surgery. It was needed due to over use through out my athletic career. Believe it or not there is a psychological phase that retired athletes go through that parallels the loss of a loved one or another tragic event. Kinda crazy.
I found that replacing the competitive fire with another passion makes the transition easier. Still not easy but a bit easier.
An interesting article entitled “Psychological effects of Retirement in Sport”. Check it out at the link below.
Loss of Identity
A study by Lavallee & Grove (1997), identified that individuals with a high athletic identity at the time of retirement were more likely to experience a higher degree of emotional adjustment difficulties. Very interesting article.
There is a lot of focus needed to excel in athletics and that focus needs to be harnessed and directed to another avenue. I know it sounds simple……but its challenging.
Another study I found – North and Lavallee (2004) – looked at how athletes plan their lives after retirement and found that after athletes retire they focus primarily on starting a professional career, taking a degree, having a family and enjoying life.
“Nothing could satisfy me outside the ring… there is nothing in life that can compare to becoming a world champion, having your hand raised in that moment of glory, with thousands, millions of people cheering you on.” – Sugar Ray Leonard
We need to change our identity from athletes to former athletes. We should acknowledge the differences between them and learn how to prepare for them. I look at the whole thing as a transition to the next chapter. I enjoyed my athletic career and now I’m looking forward to understanding where we go from here.
Remember…..It’s only stuff