We are strange, us humans! While opportunities are many and varied, we tend to restrict ourselves to avoid stepping out of our “comfort zone”.
As humans we start life without inhibitions but, as we grow older, our “RC factor (RC=Resistance to Change) becomes more and more pronounced. We tend to stay inside our experience and comfort zone. Those who succeed often come from choosing to step into the unknown. Many successful sports people are unwilling to consider career options outside their comfort zone (sporting discipline). They resist looking beyond the confines of their chosen sporting field for alternative careers. In their opinion avenues exist in sport, catering for those who have already proven their worth on the field.
The talented sportsman (please read this as gender neutral, because gender does not influence talent) makes the initial choice of a sporting career based, purely, on their talent and ability. Almost without exception, these careers have limited lives. Further, such careers demand total commitment to the discipline as part of the effort to gain the rewards of success. This means that outside demands, such as the future, cannot be properly addressed which, in turn, means the sportsman has limited alternative career options when the time to retire actually arrives.
This problem is further compounded by the fact that competition for places in the sporting world is fierce and the chance of finding such a position is small. If the applicant is not successful, or found unsuitable, then alternative career paths must be found but, as we have seen, these are limited. The secret has to be that the professional sportsman must ensure they are qualified for life either before, or during, their sporting career.
In some cases, Lord Coe of IAAF being an example, the choice of joining the administration of sport is an option. He achieved his current position by ensuring he held the necessary qualifications before entering sports administration. A second example is Dave Richardson who holds a legal qualification which opened the door for his appointment as CEO of the ICC.
Where coaching is concerned a similar situation is found. Coaching today is highly technical and those wishing to enter this field need to plan ahead while playing. To be successful, aspirant coaches need to study and qualify as coaches in their discipline. These qualifications, combined with a successful playing pedigree, permit the holder to enter the coaching field.
The third main avenue for such people is to comment or provide analysis of current games. However, this field is normally over-subscribed and those currently “in the seat” resist being replaced.
The overall message which is fundamental to success in the post-sporting career field is that the sportsman must plan ahead and prepare for their future while they are playingto ensure they optimise their chances of success.