For those who have entered a career in sports, retirement comes around a lot earlier than in other, more mainstream careers. In fact, the average retirement age in the UK is 65 but most sportspeople will likely retire in their mid to late 30s. Therefore, it’s necessary to have something else lined up. Establishing new careers after sport requires hard work and determination. Nevertheless, with the right planning, the transition can be exceptionally rewarding.

The end of your career in sports may be disheartening, but you should take this opportunity to follow your interests and passions. Take the time to research and explore the range of careers open to you. Consider which ones are well-suited to your goals, work-related values, and experiences.

What Skills do Sportspeople Have?

People who have had a career in sport have developed a strong skillset that many employers find desirable. Sportspeople are high achievers with a strong work ethic. Additionally, they can perform well under pressure, are ambitious, and follow directions with ease. In fact, a recent study found that 94% of women who hold senior management positions played some form of sport, 52% of whom played sports during their time at university.

The skills you have developed through your career in sport are readily adaptable and transferable. They are skills that employers value greatly. Find out how to emphasise your transferable skills with our dedicated guide.

On the one hand, your experiences and skills may be easily transferable to a range of different career paths. However, one of the biggest hurdles when looking for new careers after sport is a lack of relevant qualifications or education.

Retraining for Retired Sportspeople

The majority of people who enter professional sports begin their careers while still at school. Unfortunately, this often means that they miss out on the further education opportunities available to their peers. Adjusting to conventional working life can be difficult for many former athletes. Nonetheless, if the career you are interested in requires further training or education, there are numerous options available including adult apprenticeships.

Alternatively, many people searching for careers after sport decide to go to university. Take a look at the undergraduate section on our sister website Developing a Student to explore the types of degrees available and how to apply. For those keen to maintain an income while studying, consider taking a course at the Open University or part-time college or university. There are many benefits to being a mature student. These include having increased motivation, a clear goal, and the opportunity to face a new challenge.

Alternative Careers for Retired Sportspeople

There is a range of careers suitable for ex-athletes within the sports industry including, but not limited to:


The experience you have gained as a sportsperson has equipped you with the knowledge and expertise required to become a commentator. If you have excellent communication skills and the confidence to boot, you may be well-suited to a career in this field.

Coach or Manager

As a sportsperson, you have followed your own coach or manager’s direction for years. As a result, you have likely grasped the best way to coach other players to succeed. You may feel ready to take on the challenge of guiding a young sportsperson through the highs and lows you have experienced first-hand. This could be at a professional level or involve working with children. You may have to retrain for this role by taking a retraining course for adults.

Public Speakers

Ex-sports players make excellent motivational speakers. They have high determination and perseverance and are great team players. Accordingly, it is an ideal career for those leaving sports who still hope to inspire and motivate others. Our guides on personal branding and becoming self-employed in the UK can help you get set up as a public speaker.

Finding Alternative Careers for Ex-Sportspeople

The experience you have in your field will provide an excellent basis for succeeding in a related role. If you’d like to stay in the same industry, speaking with your network of contacts is a great place to start when considering careers after sport. Perhaps your manager, coach, or teammates could offer some advice or introduce you to a contact of theirs.

However, don’t be afraid to explore careers in industries other than sports. Who knows? You may benefit from making a significant change. If you need some help deciding which career is right for you, take a look at our dedicated guide.

Refreshing a Career is packed with help and advice for career changers from all backgrounds. Whether you’re looking to find the career that’s right for you or to refresh your skills in a certain area, we’ve got everything you need to find a job that suits you.