An athlete’s career doesn’t last forever. In fact, due to the physical demands placed on their bodies, their careers can end well before the average worker’s does.
Luckily, with their experience, former athletes are qualified for a range of careers in the sports industry. The following are just some of the more noteworthy to keep in mind:
Strength & Conditioning Coach
It’s no secret that athletes must be in peak physical shape to perform to the best of their abilities. That’s why the role of the strength and conditioning coach contributes substantially to a team’s success. Often coordinating with many other important team decision-makers, a strength and conditioning coach designs and executes programs that optimize athletes’ natural talents. They help athletes build strength and flexibility to prevent injuries, or they may oversee rehabilitation programs after an athlete experiences an injury.
Former athletes are uniquely qualified for this job because they already have experience completing such training programs. While a former athlete may not know all the behind-the-scenes details involved in developing an effective strength and conditioning program, they understand how such programs benefit athletes and the team as a whole. With some additional education and training, a retired athlete could easily step into this role.
It’s not uncommon for retired athletes to be interested in helping young people realize their dreams. They know what it’s like to be a young person fortunate and talented enough to make their way into professional sports. In the next stage of their careers, former athletes often wish to give other young people the same opportunities they had.
They can do so by becoming talent scouts. This role involves identifying talented young athletes and recruiting them for a team, typically at the university or professional level.
Again, this is a role for which a retired athlete is uniquely qualified. Someone who has played professionally or for their university knows what it takes to succeed at that level. They also understand that ability isn’t always enough. A successful athlete needs to be a team player. They need to be able to cope with stress and the pressure to win. They also must maintain the discipline to stay committed and focused when other factors threaten their careers. Retired athletes may thus be particularly able to spot young talent with these necessary qualities. They may also be better able to appreciate how an athlete’s strengths would work within a team or fill a team’s need for a particular skill.
A lot of behind-the-scenes work goes into ensuring the success of a university’s athletic program. Odds are good someone who once played for a university has some degree of familiarity with the purpose and goals of an athletic director. Additionally, they may still have connections with universities, which can help them network.
That’s why retired athletes should consider becoming athletic directors. In this role, they would make many of the key decisions associated with a university’s athletic department. These may include deciding which coaches to hire or fire, managing the athletic program’s budget, coordinating university athletic events, overseeing equipment purchases and facility upkeep, and much more. It’s another example of a job that can provide a former athlete with the rewarding feeling that comes from helping the next generation of players.
Photography is a hobby many people take up in retirement. It’s not just restricted to former athletes. That said, a retired athlete who develops their photography skills could pursue a career as a sports photographer.
Having spent many hours on the field, former athletes understand how plays develop. This helps them identify where to position themselves on the field, what plays might be important to capture, and when opportunities for good shots might arise. Additionally, networking in this field may be easier for retired athletes, who can leverage longstanding connections with their university or professional team.
It’s worth noting that retired athletes often make strong entrepreneurs and business leaders. That’s because playing on a team helps them develop the leadership skills, discipline, and grit that can directly translate to business success. Retired athletes often know what it takes to get others to work together to reach a common goal. Additionally, athletes tend to have a strategic, achievement-oriented mindset that translates well to the business world.
Thus, it makes sense that a former athlete might go on to become a team president. This role typically involves running an athletic team like a business. While coaches are involved in making sure the team wins games, the president is focused on ensuring the organization generates revenue. This requires the kinds of business skills that former athletes often possess, as well as knowledge of marketing, accounting, sales, and other topics. Although it takes time to advance to this CEO-level position, it’s still a job that a former athlete can fill successfully.
These are merely a few examples of careers retired athletes should consider, given the skills, knowledge, and personal connections they’ve likely developed. Of course, retired athletes should also consider their own passions and interests when deciding what career to pursue next; they shouldn’t feel like they need to stay in the sports world. The main point to remember is that retiring from play isn’t the end of an athlete’s career—it’s the start of the next chapter.