Counseling for Retired Athletes

Athletic counseling

As an athlete, you have devoted countless hours to perfecting your performance. Yet, at some point, you had to give it up professionally. Everyone reaches a time in their life when their body no longer performs as well as it used to. No amount of training can fix it. Retiring from athletics can be difficult for athletes who have devoted their lives to their profession. Athletic counseling can help.

Athletic Counseling Gives You a Voice


A lot of athletes don’t seek therapy while they’re active and when they have retired because of an existing stigma. Coaches and staff typically downplay the need for mental health services in their athletes because of the requirement to be mentally tough. However, there’s a difference between being mentally tough during a game and being mentally tough in life. 

Student-athletes, especially, are put through the wringer. Not only do they have to spend a lot of time training and conditioning, but they also spend a lot of time traveling to games, keeping up their grades, and attempting to have some form of social life, too.They could use a counselor, but they likely feel that they don’t have the time for one. More than that, their coach might even dissuade them from seeking one out because they believe that the student doesn’t need it. 

This thinking follows the athlete into their adulthood and perhaps even after they have retired. You may feel even more pressured to prove your mental toughness because you’re no longer an active athlete. 

It’s vital that you don’t fall victim to this mode of thinking. Visiting a counselor gives you a voice. As an athlete, you typically have to listen rather than speak. You may be able to voice your opinion here and there, but otherwise, you are told what to do and expected to do it. 

Using a counselor gives you that voice. No longer do you have to be silent about your anxieties and feelings. Inside that room, you are safe to talk about the things that bother, upset, and even make you angry. You have the power inside that room. For many athletes, this may be something that they have never felt before. 

Athletic Counseling Can Help Establish Identity


One of the biggest reasons behind depression in retired athletes is that they lose their sense of identity. For years, you have been perfecting yourself, training, and competing. Perhaps you’re used to a certain amount of attention from the media. Those who have especially performed well in the Olympics and World Championships may especially be at a loss of where to turn after they have retired. 

This is because their identity is connected with their achievements and their sport. They are unable to envision themselves outside of it. This is easy to understand since most, if not their entire, life was spent training for that sport. To no longer be part of that sport can be extremely disorienting. This is where having a counselor can help. 

As with other identity crises, counselors can help you define who you are outside of the sport. Everyone goes through transitions in their lives. Retired athletes may experience a more radical shift in their transition, but they can be helped all the same. 

If you’re feeling as though you have lost sense of who you are or what direction you should be traveling in, you’re not alone. A counselor can help.

Counseling Can Help Break Tunnel Vision


“Keep your eyes on the prize,” is a phrase many athletes hear. It’s also a good way to describe their focus. Athletes tend to develop tunnel vision during their training and when playing in games. They are hyper-focused on the task at hand and completing those goals. Nothing can dissuade them from achieving that goal.

However, this also develops tunnel vision that follows them into retirement. Their goal at the end of the tunnel, however, is no longer clear. For many retired athletes, this can make them feel worthless or unsure of what to do after retirement. 

Using a counselor can help you break free of that tunnel vision. You have a lot of focus and passion to give. Using a counselor can help you set your focus on something that can help you develop further.

Reach Out


The Becoming Counseling offers help for retired athletes who are unsure of where to go after their last game. Their staff is licensed, respectable, and passionate about helping athletes find a new direction and path in their life. If you’re suffering from a mental illness or believe that you could use help, then reach out to us. We’ll help you understand yourself better and find a new path forward that can make you feel satisfied and in control.

Wes Cain, LPCA, NCC, IHC



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