Embracing Your Inner Athlete: Part 2

Transitioning from sports? Learn how to redefine your athletic identity, stay active, and connect with your community.
Cal Bauer
May 23, 2024
Embracing Your Inner Athlete: Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog, we addressed the benefits of having an athletic identity and why everyone should embrace the fact that they are an athlete and should treat their body as such. That was for everyone. Some of us, however, are coming from a lifetime of athletics, from little league, to high school, all the way through collegiate. For them, that athletic identity is VERY strong, and while it's still great to embrace it, it does need a little tweaking!

For many, moving away from competition can feel like a significant loss - a breakup with a part of oneself. This transition can be emotionally challenging as it involves redefining personal identity and finding new ways to stay active and connected. How can we now find that positive intrinsic evaluation without the external approvals when you make a good play?

Step 1: Acknowledge the Loss

Give your inner athlete the respect it deserves. It was a huge part of your life for a very long time. Recognize the impact of leaving the sport and allow yourself to grieve this change.

Step 2: Stay Physically Active

Finding a new routine that you enjoy will help maintain physical health and provide that sense of continuity from what you did before. Activities that promote community, like group fitness classes (HERE!), rec sports leagues (we're gonna do these too!), or other hobby clubs such as biking or running (Velo City, Holland Run Club), are great opportunities to find your way into a "team" setting again!

Allow yourself to find something that lights you up - there are so many things to do and learn. As Dr. Bianca Byerly said, lifelong learning is the fountain of youth.

Step 3: Engage with Community

Seek those social connections within that community. We are so deeply wired with the desire to connect with others, and your experience on teams has scratched that itch for so long. No longer having those hours spent with teammates day after day leaves a gaping hole, and can cause a host of issues if left open. There are some pretty cool people out there!

Step 4: Set New Goals

Absolute necessity here! Setting new goals that you can smash will do wonders for your mental health and your perception of control over your life. Plus, who doesn't like to level up!?

One thing we always do here at Great Lakes is a Goal Review Session. Once a quarter, we sit down and discuss how things have been going, how we're progressing, and where to set our sights next. This is mostly on the physical progression side of things.

The other side of this is to also create non-athletic goals to work towards. Focusing on personal growth and development in other areas of life helps to bring meaning to other aspects of your identity outside of your physical capabilities.

Step 5: Seek Professional Support

One of the most important parts: talking with a professional. Talking through feelings with a therapist can be incredibly beneficial, helping navigate this transition and explore your identity outside of sports, and incorporating new strategies. Same way you have a coach for your swing, you need a coach for your thinking.

Alright, wrap it up

Athletic identity is a powerful component of our overall self-concept, influencing our health, social interactions, and self-esteem. Embracing this identity can lead to numerous benefits, but it’s equally important to know how to reconcile and evolve this identity when life circumstances change. You were never meant to be one thing.

Continue Reading

pushpress gym management software for boutique gyms and fitness studios