Leaving Your Sport: Now What?
Leaving your sport due to an injury can be one of you biggest challenges, not just as an athlete but as a person. Being consider an “athlete” for the majority of your life may have been something that you have identified with and has become a part of who you are. Unfortunately, all athletes face that moment when it is time to leave their sport, whether it is voluntary or not. Athletes must make the best choice for themselves, their mind and their body. Leaving your sport may be unexpected or may have been long overdue, no matter the time frame, it is still a challenge.
The most important areas to consider when left with the inability to play your sport are; building your self-confidence, finding your whole identity, and learning to play a different and somewhat unusual role as a teammate, friend, or member. As an athlete it is important to remember that we are not defined by our sport, we use the sport to help us grow as individuals through accomplishing our goals, creating and maintaining positive relationships, and understanding the meaning of hard work and dedication. All of what it takes to be an athlete does not get lost in us once we end our sport. We still have those qualities, that passion to succeed and be a team player. Be mindful of the whole person that you are, not just the athlete. Embrace every part of you and be proud of what you have accomplished so far and of what the future will bring!
Once you have decided to leave your sport, it is important to do a "check-in" with yourself each day. This is a life transition and can be a very emotional time especially if leaving your sport was due to an unexpected injury. Identifying your emotions throughout the day, examining how you feel and either discussing your feelings with someone you trust and/or writing them down will be very helpful during this time. Here are some journal topics/questions to consider:
1. List 3 ways I demonstrated my abilities and built my confidence through the play of my sport
2. List 3 ways I can demonstrate my abilities and build confidence outside of my sport.
3. List 3 positive statements about myself and give reasons why I think these statements are true
4. Who are the positively supportive people in my life? How do they support me?
5. What are at least three things I like to do for fun other than my sport?
6. In the past, what are some emotions I felt about my sport? Currently, what are my emotions toward my sport? What are my emotions toward my future about my sport?
7. List ways I can still be part of the team
8. List at least three other activities I can engage in other than my sport
9. How has my relationship with my teammates changed since having to leave the playing field?
10. How has my relationship with my coach changed since having to leave the playing field?