Beyond Athletics tennis

The End of Your Athletic Career Is a New Beginning

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No matter how good you are, your athletic career is eventually going to come to an end. Even the legendary Kobe Bryant just hung up his kicks and called it quits.

Many student-athletes struggle with the “pivot,” or transition from athlete to non-athlete. In this pivotal moment, student-athletes can either wallow over the end of their playing career or reinvent themselves.

The world can be a scary place without sports

Going from a strict regiment of workouts, practices, games and classes to a less structured life leaves many former student-athletes without a purpose or direction. This culture shock can seem extreme at first, but it’s difficult for everyone to transition to the “real world.”

UCLA Hall of Fame softball player and coach Sue Enquist believes that student-athletes must accept that they are a work in progress and “be comfortable in being uncomfortable with that.”

So, take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and remember that everything that made you a success on the field will help you in the next chapter of your life.

Athletic lessons are life lessons

Life presents a series of challenges; however, sports give student-athletes the tools to succeed. Think about it, sports teach us about time management, teamwork and work ethic. All these skills are critical in the working world and the following facts back that up:

  • A U.S. Department of Education report said that high school athletes are more likely to go to college and ultimately graduate.
  • A Gallup study found that former student-athletes are happier and more fulfilled than non-athletes.
  • 94 percent of female executives played a sport and most – 61 percent – cite sports as critical to their success, according to an ESPNW survey.

For anyone who is still worried about their pivot, listen to inspirational words of Sue Gordan, a former Duke women’s basketball player and current deputy director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency:

Know that the magic isn’t in the game, the magic is in you. Everything that made you a success at your sports is what will make you a success in any endeavor if you call on it.

Post-playing career gameplan from former tennis star

In her enlightening post on ESPNW, Prim Siripipat shares her struggles and triumphs after the end of her athletic career.

Siripipat, a Division I tennis player turned ESPN broadcaster, was initially overwhelmed with emotion over the end of her career, but she developed a new dream and feels she has a blueprint to overcoming the anxiety of the “pivot.”

She encourages student-athletes to first enjoy their athletic career because it goes by in the blink of an eye. Secondly, she believes effort is essential to success and how you practice is how you will play. Finally, the best way to transition to your post-athletic career is to find a new passion in life and “you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”

After years and years of defining yourself as a student-athlete, it is difficult to contemplate your life without sports. Rather than focus on the end, remember that you’re starting a new beginning and you have all the skills to succeed in the real world.


If you’re ready to hang up your cleats, it’s totally ok. But if you’re still thinking about ways you can play in college, we can help. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

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About the author
Tom Johnson