I have quoted from a very interesting article taken from the BBC website dated 5 February 2018.

More than half of former professional sportspeople have had concerns about their mental or emotional wellbeing since retiring, according to a new survey. 

Retired athletes also told the BBC they “lose their identity” when they finish playing sport, experiencing “loss”, “regret” and “devastation”.

One in two ex-players of the 800 who responded to the Professional Players’ Federation (PPF) survey did not feel in control of their lives within two years of finishing their careers.

The data was released to the BBC as part of a State of Sport investigation into life after sport.

“It is not unusual to hear players speak about feelings of mourning and grief when they retire,” says Simon Taylor, chief executive of the PPF.

“Transition from professional sport can be a daunting prospect. The fact that retirement for sportsmen and women normally happens in their 30s only compounds the problems.” 

The research covered former players from the Rugby Players’ Association, the Professional Cricketers’ Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association.

The results back up key findings from a series of interviews with former sportspeople carried out by the BBC.

Key State of Sport findings:

  • Many former sportspeople report a loss of identity after retiring and struggle to move on in life.
  • The struggle to find a new purpose can lead to more serious problems such as depression, self-harm, addiction and financial problems.
  • Even the best-prepared athletes struggle – retirement can be like a grieving process.
  • A focus on success can hinder an athlete’s prospects of planning for life after retirement.

Other notable responses from the survey:

  • Only four in 10 of those who felt they had an issue with their mental and emotional wellbeing had sought help.
  • Fewer than one in 10 former players had sought help for drug, alcohol or gambling problems.
  • Only three in 10 former players were able to choose when they stopped playing professional sport.
  • Just over half of respondents reported financial difficulties in the five years after stopping playing.

“The biggest thing I felt was a loss of identity and purpose,” said Kelly Holmes, the double Olympic champion who retired in 2005, who spoke about the depression she had after her sporting career ended.

“Suddenly the structure, the people you call on, it all goes. But with no idea of what you want to do and who you want to be and that’s a really lonely place and I got quite depressed around that time.”

Taylor says: “All too often, so much of an athlete’s life has been dedicated to their job that when it stops it can lead to a real loss of identity.”


Taking into account the above survey, it may be important for a retiring  professional sports person to ensure that they do not suffer from any of the above issues  . In need, it may be worthwhile contacting their ruling Sports Body for advice.

Barry Smith.