This tool assists to help an athlete in their transition to post-athletic life. By using the tool, they are supported in dealing with this challenging process and opening up new value-based opportunities for themselves.
Our values impact our thoughts, words, and actions. They are important because they help us to grow and develop, guide our beliefs and behaviours, and help us to develop a sense of Self. Across their sporting careers, athletes will have developed, either consciously or subconsciously, a set of values that have helped them to develop meaning and purpose.
Leaving high-performance sport is a radical change for athletes. When coping with this change, the mix of emotions that athletes may go through is very similar to a grieving process. Still, many athletes tend to rush into a vocational career at the end of their sporting career without taking the time to explore what is valuable to them and what they are passionate about. They may not recognise that the values that were of importance to them during their sporting career can be reinterpreted and realized within different contexts, creating a continued sense of fulfilment.
This is where the tool Game Changer comes into play. It helps athletes recognise that although their sporting career is over, values that they hold close to them can continue to be actioned in a new way; both in private and vocational life.
Follow the instructions to apply this tool and browse our manifold resources to find out more about the addressed topic.
The Book of Values (pdf) is a handicraft work in the form of a self-folded booklet. The intervention represents a process to help athletes sense emotions linked to the termination of their athletic career, identify impactful values developed in this career, and recognize how values can be realized in new life contexts, and elevate a hidden personal treasure that lies within phases of demanding change. Recognizing that values experienced and lived throughout the athletic career are in no way lost but can be transferred to different contexts can be very powerful for transitioning athletes as they open up to new opportunities. This process is a multi-sensory approach encompassing verbal, visual and kinaesthetic elements. Please note that this process can be experienced as intensive by both the athlete and the counsellor. It requires professional experience, time, and a trusting counselling environment.
- Duplex print the Book of Values (pdf) and provide it to the athlete. Guide the athlete on how to construct their very personal piece. Our In Practice section shows how to fold the A4 template into a small booklet.
- Ask the athlete to choose a title for their book. The title should be linked to the transition scenario the athlete currently experiences (e.g., terminating the athletic career). Let the athlete write the book title on the front page.
- Ask the athlete to open the book and depict their emotion linked to the transition out of high performance sport by drawing a corresponding face expression; may it be positive or negative, happy or sad, relieved or tense. Invite the athlete to discuss what they have drawn.
- Ask the athlete to identify the values that were of utmost importance to them during their sporting career. Turn the athlete’s attention to the next free page on the right side. Let them list their 3 most impactful values from their sporting career. Discuss these values in detail. What do these values mean? Why are they so precious to the athlete? How and when did they develop?
- Instruct the athlete to open out the booklet to its full size. Link this move to opening up to new oportunities within their post-athletic life. Assist the athlete to consider how they may be able to action their most impactful values within the different contexts outlined: relationship/family, friends/hobbies/sport, education/vocational life and social projects/other. Within each contextual quarter, ask the athlete to write down concrete actions they could take to assist in the value transfer.
- Assist the athlete in planning on how to realize these actions.
- A concept that has been proposed by Kübler-Ross (see References) is that substantial transitions come with the chance to identify a personal treasure. However, as this treasure is hidden, many people will not recognize it. When athletes leave high-performance sport, they might experience a realization that something they previously perceived as impossible, is now possible (again). This could be a new belief, view, or value that they have come across during this transition: their secret treasure. Make the athlete aware of the hidden top right corner of their Book of Values. Whenever they feel ready (whether now or sometime in the future), advise them to autonomously reflect upon their secret treasure. Instruct the athlete to draw or write in this area their perceived secret gift. Consequently, this section stays only for them to see.
- Athlete Network (2018): The Struggles Of Ex-Athletes & How To Build A Game Plan For Life After Sports
Beaulieu, D. (2006): Impact techniques
- Believe Perform (2017): Goals out of sport – Facilitating the retirement process
- Forcoop CORA Venice sc (2017): Aftermatch – Life beyond sport. Project brochure
- Jacobs, E. (2020): What is impact Therapy?
- MindTools (2020): What are your values?
- Viktre (2017): Why values are important to athletes transitioning to a career after sports
- Wylleman, P., Smismans, S., & Defruyt, S. (2020): How should athletes be supported before, during and after athletic retirement? Moving from an athletic-centred needs analysis to practical guidelines for career support stakeholders
- Beaulieu, D. (2013): Impact techniques for therapists
- Grove, J. R., Lavallee, D., & Gordon, S. (1997): Coping with retirement from sport – The influence of athletic identity. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 9, 191-203
- Kübler-Ross, E. (2005): On Grief and Grieving – Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
- TW1N: Dual Career Counselling Practice
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The tool "Game Changer" in action: See real-life examples of its application in EU dual career practice.