September 12 – A research report has found that athletes who study for a second career are more likely to have a more successful sports career.
David Lavallee, a professor at Abertay University in Scotland, tracked 632 players in Australia’s National Rugby League over three years found that players actively preparing for a career transition are more likely to be selected for matches, and had a more successful and longer career as an athlete.
“This is the first study in the world that has actually proved this link. From our perspective we see it as a missing link,” Lavallee said.
“Those people that were more engaged in their career and education, and planning for retirement actually stayed in the game for longer. There were benefits to the individual, benefits to the club and benefits to the game overall.”
FIFPro has been part of a co-funded project – Called ‘Mind the Gap’ – with EU funding initiative Erasmus+ to help footballers and other athletes prepare for their career transition.
The benefits of studying were outlined by Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini (pictured) who said studying for a masters in business administration improved his game. “It gave me a big help,” he said, “In football if you are not active mentally, if you are not lucid and quick thinking about reading situations, you won’t reach a high level.”
Lavelle believes that coaches and managers are missing a major performance area with their players by not embracing education outside the game and that football is where the greatest strides are to be made.
“This is the future for the next 10 years I think. This is where the performance gains in sport will be seen … and I don’t think it will be insignificant. I think it will be much more significant than marginal gains. I think that there is a great opportunity in football, probably more than in any other sport,” he said.
For critics that argue professional sport is about winning and not about life planning, Lavelle responds that they are missing the point.
“Players, coaches, senior management, managers I think should recognise if they place greater value in the holistic value of the development of players than just on winning it actually has a better opportunity to lead to winning. And that is a different way of thinking that just the perspective of winning at all cost.”
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