6 Tips to Help Professional Athletes Prepare for a Second Career
As a professional athlete, you didn’t begin competing at the top level of your sport by accident; it took years of hard work, struggle and sacrifice. It also took a lot of passion, and that passion for the game can be difficult to let go. However, at some point all top athletes must begin considering what life after their sport will look like.
If you’re like many professional athletes, you may find yourself “retired” at a young age and looking for a second career. Fortunately, preparing for your second career likely won’t take nearly as much dedication as preparing for your first, but it is important to have a plan. The following tips can help.
Tip #1 – Leverage your skills.
You may be surprised to discover that your experience as a professional athlete has prepared you for a second career in many ways. Not only have you been training your body over the years, you’ve also been training your mind. It takes a lot of resilience, confidence, grit, optimism and determination to compete at the highest level of athletics, and these are all skills that will translate well into whatever second career you choose to pursue; just remember to tap into them.
Tip #2 – Ask questions.
A great way to figure out your next step is by asking questions. Start by reaching out to other former athletes who have successfully transitioned to second careers. Whether or not you’re interested in pursuing the same career, these former athletes can be a great resource for helping you navigate this life change.
Also reach out to those who are currently working in careers you may be interested in pursuing, as they can provide great perspective on how they have been able to get to where they are today. The more questions you ask, the better prepared you will be for the next chapter in life.
Tip #3 – Develop relationships.
Through your experience as a professional athlete, you’ve likely met many people who can help you pursue a second career. It’s important to continuously foster those relationships, as well as develop new relationships with others outside of the sports world. Having a strong professional network can pay off in many ways down the road. The more relationships you have, the more opportunities will be available to you, both today and long into the future.
Consider attending networking events in industries you’re interested in pursuing. These events are often hosted by a chamber of commerce, a sponsoring corporation or a professional organization. Be sure to ask for business cards, and schedule a follow-up coffee or phone call with anyone who seems willing to be a connection.
Tip #4 – Take care of your image.
As a professional athlete, you are often in the public eye, and the manner in which you portray yourself can stick with you for many years after you retire. Take care of your public image by always presenting yourself in a professional manner. You should let your personality shine through, as this can be a huge advantage later on as you pursue a second career, but do so in a manner that shows your intelligence, wit, maturity and confidence. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, consider enrolling in media training or a public speaking class. After all, your future employer may be watching!
Tip #5 – Take a course or two.
Not only can continuing your education help prepare you for a career after sports, it can also allow you to try out different career paths without committing to one. If you think you’d like a career in business, consider taking a business administration course. Communication studies may be a great introduction to broadcasting. Or, if you’re interested in becoming a financial advisor (like yours truly!), consider taking a course in finance.
Tip #6 – Have a financial plan in place.
One of the best ways to prepare for life after a professional sports career is by having a financial plan in place. A solid financial plan is essential to identifying, understanding and achieving your goals. The average career span of professional athletes is significantly shorter than that of other professions, which makes having a financial plan in place even more important.
Financial planning can help increase your level of confidence and comfort, result in more constructive financial behavior and give you some time to get up and running with a second career after you retire from your professional athletics career. Ultimately, a solid financial plan puts you in control of your financial future.
Could you use some help preparing for life after your career as a professional athlete? Creative Planning Sports and Entertainment is here for you. We are fiduciary advisors who specialize in helping professional athletes navigate the unique financial challenges of their careers. As a specialty practice of Creative Planning, our experienced team members include Certified Financial PlannerTM professionals, certified public accountants, attorneys, insurance specialists and more. We help you navigate today’s challenges while preparing for a financially smart future. To learn more, schedule a call.