If you were an athlete in high-school or college, you might be wondering if taking it pro is worth your time. Becoming a full time, professional athlete is a tough career that not many are cut out for. But in order to pursue that dream, a lot of “normal life” things, like office jobs or travelling the world, must be sacrificed. It takes a lot of time to train for professional athleticism, no matter the end goal. This article will help you decide if you’re ready to take the next step to making your sport your full time job.
1. Necessary Skills
Being a professional athlete is about more than just raw skill and talent. Of course, as a high school athlete you may have excelled without much effort required, relying on your natural ability to help you rise to the top. But pursuing athletics as a career will require a lot more effort than you may be prepared to expend. For instance, many young athletes find it incredibly tough to take the recommended gap year between high school and college. Why take a gap year, they ask, when college sports might bring just as many opportunities, if not more, than high school?
But for many sports, going to college may end up simply being a distraction. Many athletes find it worthwhile to take a full year to train professionally, acquiring new skills to take into their future teams, or maybe getting the space and time they needed to realize the sport isn’t for them. Rushing a career in athletics is tempting, since ageing out takes no time at all. But it’s important to take your time to figure out if this is really the right move. For instance, athletes need interpersonal and decision making skills in addition to the physical components of athleticism. If that doesn’t sound like you, it might be time to take a break to develop those skills.
2. The Downsides
There are a lot of downsides to become a professional athlete. Sure, there are also tons of perks. You have the satisfaction of being at the top of your game, training with the best and playing on a team with people who are just as passionate as you are about the sport. But the hard parts might come as a shock to you if you aren’t prepared ahead of time, and you don’t want to find yourself in that position having sunk time and money into the effort. Working on holidays and weekends is just the beginning.
You’ll also be expected to sacrifice a lot of downtime to train and travel, meaning that any relationships you have at home could be compromised. Your year will be incredibly unbalanced, requiring hard grueling work for a few months, and tons of boredom and downtime the rest of the year. And there’s always the possibility that you could be injured badly, ending your career and possible compromising your quality of life. Many athletes have an alternate career lined up in the case that they’ll have to retire unexpectedly. If that sounds too tough to you, you might not be cut out for the athlete’s life.
It’s important to realize that the way sports and athleticism are represented on TV isn’t always accurate to how the lifestyle really is. You may not get to play all the time they way it seems like you favorite players do, spending loads of time training and waiting for the next big game instead. You probably won’t make tons of good money they way top players in your sport do, and it may become necessary for you to take a second job as you train and work for the first. In addition, you may never end up on the team you wanted to, and may never become a famous player.
This is all said not to discourage you from pursuing your dream, but to make sure you’re truly prepared for the reality of a life in athletics. If it’s truly your dream and you’re willing to put in the work, nothing can keep you from becoming a pro.