What is Transition? It's A Fact of Life for Professional Players

What is transition?

Face it: Transition is a fact of life – your life. Whether you’re willing to admit it or not – transition has been a part of your life in the past, is a part of your life now, and will be a part of your life in the future.

When you went from high school to college and from college to the pros you experienced transition. If you are married, if you were traded or changed teams, if you bought a house – you experienced transitions that are a part of every player’s life.

Some transitions are planned, some are unexpected, and some are unpredictable. Some are because of an event happening and some are caused because an event didn’t happen.

Regardless of the type of transition, your greatest determining factor for success is your perception of your transition and your attitude during transition.

For example, one athlete might interpret being passed over in the draft as an indicator that he has the opportunity to select the team he believes has the greatest opportunity for success or one that meets other needs or desires. Another, athlete, however, may interpret the same opportunity as an indicator that he is a failure and will never attempt to enter the professional ranks. Perception is everything.

3 Common Factors of Transition You Should Know About.

There are three factors that are common to every transition: 1) The characteristics of your transition, 2) You, the individual, and 3) Your environment.

1) Characteristics of Transition.

Characteristics of transition include the following:

Role Change. For example, some college and high school athletes eventually turn pro. The transition into the professional ranks has already brought about a role change. Eventually, all professional athletes leave the game and face a role change again.

Source. For professional athletes facing transition of life after sports, the source of this transition may play an important role. For example, few professional athletes retire from the game on their own, most are forced to leave because of age, injury, or because intense competition forces them out via a coaches decision. How you leave the sport has a significant impact on how you cope with transition into life after your career.

Timing. Another factor that impacts a transition is the timing of the event, or more specifically, whether the event was expected or not. If your exit from the game was somewhat expected or planned, it will usually be less traumatic than an exit that was unexpected and abrupt. For example, an injury or unexpectedly being cut will usually be a more difficult transition, especially if you have not prepared for it.

Duration. How long the transition lasts may also play a part in how you cope with transition. Leaving the game may be experienced quickly or it may be seasons of comeback attempts or numerous teams and minor league type attempts that may take years before an athlete comes to a decision point about the final act of retirement.

Personal Investment. The amount of sacrifice an athlete makes to his sport has a direct correlation to transition. For example, an investor who has made serious sacrifices and invested a large portion of his net worth into the stock market is much more likely to be devastated when the market crashes than an investor who only slightly dabbles in the same market.

2) The Individual

Individual characteristics include age, health, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, personality, values, and previous experience with similar type transitions. Questions to consider may include: Am I willing to admit that transition is a challenging process? How mature am I in facing this transition? Does my health play a role in my transition? Do my values? Am I willing to receive help during transition? How does my race/ethnicity affect the way I deal with transition? How much does my current financial situation play into transition? Am I willing to honestly asses potential substance abuse issues? How has my career affected my spouse and other relationships? Is transition affecting these same relationships? Have I ever had to deal with a difficult transition in the past? If so, did the previous transition teach me how to cope with my current transition? Am I willing to accept the challenge that every pro athlete faces?

3) The Environment

This characteristic includes issues outside and around you that affect your ability to make a positive transition a reality. For example, does your family and friends support your position as a retired pro athlete? The environment can play a positive or negative role in your ability to cope with transition. Do you have a personal support system or mentor? Is there anyone you can talk to about transition that understands? What institutional support systems or organizations are available to you that can help during your transition? An example might be the sport league or union, the college you attended, your agent or financial counselor, a professional family or sports counselor, a sport ministry, or business organization. Finally, how does your physical environment and geographic location add or distract from a successful transition? Does the climate produce stress? Is there opportunity in the city where you live?

The Bottom Line: You

It’s good to understand transition and what it is, but the biggest factor in your transition is you. You make all the difference in the world – regardless of the circumstances. You choose success or failure. You choose action or stagnation. No matter where you are in the process – it’s never to late to make good decisions that will change your future – for the better.
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