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Psychology of the retired athlete

06 November 2014 By In Blog

Sunday Brunch,channel four,chatting to Dr.Steve Peters, 21st September 2014

Dr steve Peters has worked with many high level elite athletes such as Sir Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Ronnie o'Sullivan and the England football team.

It was mentioned by Dr.Peters  that we can feel flat and clinically depressed after great achievement, not just elite sports people but professional people such as newly qualified Doctors. This is not an easy or comfortable subject for many of us to discuss as there is still stigma attached to a perceived unwell mind, particularly in this world of strong athletic role-models who we normally see at the peak of their career and we never really see at their most vulnerable. Steve talked about helping up to 20 members of the Beijing 2008 Olympic team (athletes and staff) after the Olympics who felt they had clinical depression.

I can talk from firsthand experience as an Olympic swimmer when I will admit to anyone now (maybe not 15 years ago when I retired from the sport) that I suffered depression, anxiety, sadness, almost a sense of bereavement for many years. Particularly as my life from the age of 13-30 years old was all about elite level performance in swimming and being judged by your performance in the pool both personally and by the media.

For much elite level sportspeople the transition to everyday life can be as hard as the major life changing experiences that we will all face at some time such as the loss of relationship, loss of a loved one and major change of life circumstances.

More recently Jack Green the British Olympic hurdler has talked openly about his struggles with depression both on the track whilst training and competing but also in his personal life. Ian Thorpe the multi Olympic medalist has been into rehab and talked about having severe bouts of depression after quitting swimming.

I have not read Dr. Steve Peters book, ' The Chimp Paradox' and it sounds a great read for not only sports people but for learning how to manage your mind in life and work.

For me my journey from a highly successful swimmer to sad lonely lost scared soul has a positive ending after 15years away from the highest most competitive environments of daily self judgement, desire for success and success at all costs.

It has been the most traumatic, impossible at times experience to find a happy contented place in my life where I have truly found the person who I was all a long before I started my sporting journey.

I really hand on heart wouldn't change the journey now for the world as I was privileged to have a very successful sporting career of which I never expected or dreamed of. I now have the self-empowered knowledge of the transition from a highly talented driven sportsperson mindset to be able to overcome the darkest place one’s mind can enter to a fairly level headed non-judgemental mind-mature individual.

I would recommend anyone now retiring from a long elite level sporting career or even business career to seek advice and help for the transition from highly charged mindset to calm mature mindset. This doesn’t mean taking that success away from you but enhancing and realising who you have been, who you are today and the amazing person you will be able to become again.

Read 4824 times Last modified on Sunday, 30 November 2014 14:37
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