For those who have entered a career in sport, retirement from your career can come frighteningly early. Establishing a second career requires determination, but the transition can be exceptionally rewarding with the right planning.

The end of your career in sport 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 and consider which are well-suited to your goals, work-related values, and experiences.

People that have had a career in sport have developed a strong skillset many employers find desirable. Sportspeople are high achievers with a strong work ethic. They can perform well under pressure, are ambitious, and follow direction with ease. A recent study found that 94% of women who hold senior management positions played some form of sport, 52% of which was played during their time at university. The skills you have developed through your career in sport are readily adaptable and transferable, and are likely to be sought out by employers.

While your experiences and skills may be easily transferable to a range of different career paths, one of the biggest hurdles many must overcome to enter a new career is a lack of relevant qualifications or education.

With most people who enter professional sports beginning their career while still at school, they often have missed out on the further education opportunities available to their peers. The adjustment to conventional working life can be difficult for many former athletes. If the career you are interested in requires further training or education, there are many options available, including adult apprenticeships.

Alternatively, many people who exit a career in sports decide to go to university. Take a look at our undergraduate pages 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 numerous benefits of being a mature student, including having higher motivation, a clear direction, and the chance to face a new challenge.

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

  • Commentators: The experience you have gained as a sportsperson has made you well equipped with the knowledge and expertise required to become a commentator. If you have the confidence and excellent communication skills, you may be well-suited to a career in this field.
  • Coach or Manager: After having followed your own coach or manager’s direction for several years, you have likely grasped the best way to coach 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 professional level, or involve working with children.
  • Public speakers: Ex-sports players make excellent motivational speakers. They have high determination, perseverance, and are great team players. This is an ideal career for those exiting sport that still hope to inspire and motivate others to achieve greatness.

The experience you have in your field will provide an excellent basis for succeeding in a related role. If you are interested in staying in the same industry, speaking with your network of contacts is a great place to start looking for a new career. Perhaps your manager, coach, or teammates could advise you on how to succeed.

However, don’t be afraid to explore careers in industries other than sport. You may benefit from making a significant change. If you are still unsure which career is right for you take a look at our dedicated guide.