ARE PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES READY FOR LIFE AFTER SPORT?
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Retirement in sport is an inevitable fate. Sooner or later all professional sport athletes face retirement whether it is voluntary or in-voluntary. The transition between being a professional to retirement (also known as ‘career transition) has been a hot topic in recent years with research in this area becoming more popular. The need for a healthy transition is an important aspect of retirement where previous athletes who have suffered a negative transition have gone on to suffer from alcohol and drug abuse and on occasion to suicide. This study aims to gain an understanding of whether athletes have the appropriate tools to deal with life after sport. Four participants were used from three different sports. Two of the participants were current active professionals. The other two were ex-professionals who have now retired. A qualitative method was adopted to collect data with semi-structured interviews which was deemed the most appropriate and effective process to collect, transcribe and analyse this data. The results found three key themes which were actions taken for retirement, age of recruitment and pressure to perform well at a high standard. These themes highlighted the need to educate these athletes on preparing for life after sport. Whilst there was evidence their sports were providing information on this topic, the athletes did not take advantage of this. An initiative derived from this was to educate the athletes families as every participant highlighted the huge influence they had on their decision to become a professional sports athlete. Future study in this area could include a wider range of sports, ages, gender as well a greater number of participants.
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