Hi Athlete Transition Study participant,
I am writing because sometime in the past 18 months, you completed the Athlete Transition Study survey and provided your email address. I want to follow up on what we have accomplished so far, what we plan for the immediate future, and to ask that you reach out to anyone with a background in elite sport to take the survey before April 1, 2023. The survey is on our website, www.AthleteTransitionStudy.com. We will close recruitment for at least a year while we focus on using the information already provided by athletes such as yourself.
Please join us on Social Media (i.e., Instagram ‘Athlete Transition Study’) and share the survey and our website with your athlete friends.
As of today, we received 711 surveys. Advances in Psychiatry, a scientific journal, is publishing a research article utilizing that data. We focused on two issues. First, of all the reasons researchers had studied regarding why athletes struggle during the transition, the most important was when retirement came as a surprise. While many issues are challenging to navigate, such as a toxic sport culture and disappointment with career accomplishments, it’s particularly hard when an athlete’s moment of retirement feels like it snuck up on them. This information is crucial in identifying at-risk athletes, and we plan to continue studying how to identify and support those athletes.
Second, we looked at each athlete’s period of greatest difficulty during their transition out of sports to determine how often, in what ways, and how hard it was to cope. Thanks to your responses, we were able to give very compelling examples of the psychological, social, behavioral, and physical challenges associated with leaving sport. Perhaps the most alarming information pertained to the toxicity of team environments, how many athletes experienced anxiety, depression, and thought about suicide, and how difficult it can be to create structure once out of the sport system.
Over the next year, we have several projects in mind. These include additional research utilizing your data, petitioning to talk at a national conference of Sport Psychology on the current state of research and health services for athletes transitioning out of sport, and I am starting a book on transition that will heavily emphasize athletes and information provided from your surveys. Longer-term goals include outreach to governing systems responsible for those sports where we received enough data to make helpful observations. So far, these include football, soccer, swimming, and softball.
Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey and for sharing your experience as an athlete with us. We hope and intend to honor your generosity by continuing to learn and disseminate information that will improve the lives of future athletes. Please know that your email address will not be shared and that all your data remains confidential. If you have questions or concerns or no longer wish to receive updates, please reply to this email.
Daniel Zimet, PhD, CMPC
Certified Mental Performance Coach
Listed USOPC Sport Psych Registry
36-time National Handball champion