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High-Level Athlete Career Transition: How to Get Educated?

The career of a high-level athlete is often short, marked by extreme physical and mental intensity and demands. However, the end of this sports career does not signify the end of one’s professional life. On the contrary, it can be the beginning of a new chapter that is equally enriching.

Choosing Your Path: Leveraging Athletic Skills or Changing Fields

For many athletes, staying in the sports domain is a natural choice. The knowledge and experience gained can be invaluable in roles such as coach, sports commentator, or player agent. Many athletes choose to remain in the sports field, becoming coaches, trainers, or speakers. This transition is often facilitated by obtaining appropriate degrees, such as a master’s in STAPS (Science and Techniques of Physical and Sports Activities) or a BPJEPS (Professional Bachelor’s Degree in Youth, Popular Education, and Sports). Careers in sports facility or event management, as well as communication, are also possible.

"On average, an athlete takes between 6 and 8 years to find true post-competition serenity. A time they can use to educate themselves."

However, other athletes prefer to explore completely different fields, utilizing their transferable skills such as leadership, teamwork, and stress management. Some become entrepreneurs, actors, or politicians. These careers offer the opportunity to develop new passions and skills, opening doors to entirely new horizons.

Preparing for Transition

Before embarking on a new career, it is essential to understand one’s skills and interests. Skills assessment is a structured process that helps athletes evaluate their professional and personal skills, as well as their motivations. This helps identify careers that best fit their profiles.

"This helps to write their roadmap, determine acquired and transferable skills, areas for improvement. We also work on personality, self-confidence, aspirations. They also follow modules on management, leadership... all of this helps to better target the orientation to launch the action plan. We don't do copy-paste, everything is personalized."

Networking is also a key component of transition. Athletes can use their existing contacts and participate in events, conferences, and workshops to explore new opportunities and expand their professional network. But for athletes who do not have significant media exposure, this can be more complicated.

“For medalists, high-profile athletes, it’s true that the network can help with transition, but for the majority, less known, it’s very complicated,” explains Laura Flessel, who has managed a dual project (sports career and business tourism development).

Support Programs and Government Initiatives

Numerous programs exist to support athlete transition, such as reserved paramedical training, financial assistance, and the Pacte de Performance, which connects Olympic medalists with companies through patronage and sponsorship.

The government also offers initiatives to support athletes, such as the Center for Studies of National and International Athletes (CESNI), which offers training from high school to postgraduate level. Many financing options are available, including state aid, scholarships, and private funding. It is important to explore all possibilities to choose the best option.

Choosing Your Education

We know the great qualities needed to achieve and maintain high performance. We talk about the DNA of the high-level athlete. It’s a set of skills and qualities that interests companies to the highest degree. But for a transition to be successful, it must be chosen, not suffered. Athletes need to become aware of their skills capital, allowing them to approach their second career with the same ambition as the first.” explains Richard Hullin, co-founder of Sport Excellence Reconversion.

Questions to Ask for a Successful Transition

  • What is my available time during the week?
  • What is the best time of day for studying?
  • Do I prefer to study alone or in a group?
  • Am I ready to embark on lengthy studies or do I prefer a short-term training?
  • What financial resources can I dedicate to my education?

Sport Excellence Reconversion: The first school 100% dedicated to athletes and high-level sportspeople.

The Sport Excellence Reconversion School provides comprehensive support to high-level athletes. In partnership with the ACE Education Group, it expands its range of training programs, benefiting from 20 campuses across France, such as the Esdac design school or the Amos sports management school. This ecosystem allows high-level athletes to pursue training in different institutions.

The programs offered can vary in duration, ranging up to 240 hours for bachelor’s or master’s degrees, and even 60-hour programs, depending on the participants’ needs. This flexibility ensures a tailored path, regardless of their initial experience, to obtain certification and graduation. Additionally, athletes will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the business world, an experience that can be decisive for their transition.

The first cohort, launched in mid-November, brings together ten athletes with diverse profiles, some still active in preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games. Hailing from various disciplines such as football, fencing, swimming, equestrianism, and handball, they benefit from a methodology tailored to their specific needs.

"We offer a methodology that suits them, and I hope that we can help more and more each year."

The transition of high-level athletes is a complex but crucial process to ensure a fulfilling career after sports. By exploring different transition options, adequately preparing, and utilizing available resources, athletes can successfully navigate this transition.

To learn more about the Sport Excellence Reconversion school founded by Laura Flessel & Richard Hullin, visit here!

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