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date: 20 January 2021

A Holistic and Mental Health Perspective on Transitioning Out of Elite Sportlocked

  • Paul WyllemanPaul WyllemanDepartment of Movement and Sport Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Athletes’ transition out of elite sport has drawn the attention of psychologists in view of the number of problems retired athletes face with which they are generally unprepared to cope. Research over the past decades has revealed that athletic retirement should not be viewed as a dead-end stop but rather as a process of transition. The quality of this transition is influenced not only by the pre- and post-retirement phases but also by the challenges retiring elite athletes have faced at different levels of their development. Using the holistic athletic career model, challenges faced by retiring athletes are described at the athletic, psychological, psychosocial, academic, vocational, financial, and legal levels of their development. Particular attention is paid to the influence of these multilevel challenges on retirees’ mental health. In conclusion, the roles of psychologists in preparing and supporting elite athletes during the transition out of their sport are considered.

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