The gloves come off, the boots hung up, the goggles and costumes go away – who’s got your back now? Who is looking after your welfare for the next 50 years? It’s a monumental change in fortunes, change in focus and unsurprisingly is a very difficult journey for many to cope with! I have written many articles about building your PowerTeam and having the best support around you fit for the journey ahead, not the history behind you.
Every sport is different – clearly, otherwise there would be no variety or choice for athletes and spectators alike.
Likewise, every sport has different cultural expectations and ways of working. When performing at the top there are key foundational requirements to enable success and trophies. For example, British Rowing has been described as having a culture that was tough and unrelenting http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/38833749. I don’t know a single coach from the amateur levels through to the elite performers that wouldn’t say they were tough and unrelenting. Let’s be fair, parents can be, and are, tough and unrelenting in pursuit of bringing up grounded and well prepared young adults – or is that just me, I don’t think so.
There has to be a balance and intelligence. When does this drive for success switch from tough to bullying, from obsession over the minor details to find that small adjustment for the winning edge, to favouritism and nepotism. Everyone has an opinion on this and let’s face it, if we all agreed with what everyone else thought, life would be a very dull place.
Taking that point forward then – we are not always going to agree with a coach’s ideas, their style, their techniques and to be fair we are not always going to like them or they like us. So what is the goal and what is the definition of success? With a common goal the ebb and flow of working together becomes far less traumatic.
We all need the support of others in our journey. A coach is just one person and in elite sports it’s not just one person, there is everyone from the nutritionist and the cook through to the agent and the physio. All working with one objective – to get the best out of you on the day that you perform, be that once every four years (not literally but you know what I mean) or twice a week for 9 months+ every year. They have got your back!!
Previous team mates and training partners are always the starting point when looking for support, understandably they know your journey and they understand the dedication and sacrifices you have made. The question is, are they right for the road ahead? Will they be objective enough and creative enough to help you find that mojo? Clearly many are and this is a great starting point but others will answer many questions with something like this, “yeah, sounds like a great idea Mike, just go for it you always land on your feet?” I question how objective this support is and is it really going to help you when in 6 months’ time, with the benefit of hindsight, the idea may have always been doomed for failure.
Years of coaching and being in business has taught me that not everyone likes me, not every gets me and that’s OK, I’ve had therapy and can deal with this now! Joking aside, not everyone gets you, not everyone likes you and not everyone thinks you are the bee’s knees – that’s their thinking and it doesn’t matter, there are more than enough people out there that do. I’m not advocating becoming an arrogant idiot that doesn’t care about anyone or anybody else with an ego the size of an HGV. However, one of the greatest challenges for a sports person going through retirement and into transition is the lack of identity and clarity of direction for the future which can make them feel vulnerable, less worthy and no longer bullet proof.
Who has got your back for the way ahead? Write down a list of names. Be honest with yourself, it’s not a random list of people in your LinkedIn or Facebook, it’s people that are genuinely there for you for the way ahead. Once you have created that list now go on and score them on a level of genuine commitment to helping you be the best version of you in this new life going forward, the one with Life After Sport. There are always people you can ask for help, ask me, just ask, it’s not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of maturity and preparation for the way ahead! Working in isolation doesn’t work, make sure you have the right people in your PowerTeam who truly have your back!