Who am I?

The Switch The Play team have created a series of Masterclasses for current athletes, designed to improve understanding of what is required to make a successful transition into life after sport. This article is based on Masterclass 1 – Who Am I?, which seeks to make participants questions their roles within and outside of sport, to grow self-worth.

28 Sep Who am I?

‘Who am I’ might sound like a pretty deep philosophical question. I am sure we have all introduced ourselves to people countless times in our lives – the answer is obvious right?


As humans our identity can be made up of a number of different roles we play. You might play the role of a parent, sibling, friend, footballer, rugby player. But there lies the importance – the difference held in the language we use can determine how much our roles define who we are. When asked the question who are you? do you respond with “I am a runner”, or “I am a footballer” – or do you find the words to say “I love to run” or “I play football for a professional club.”

What we identify ourselves with comes with meaning and expectation – from others and ourselves, and how we consider ourselves to measure up against these expectations forms our level of self-worth and perceived competence.

For many athletes who dedicate 100% of their efforts to the pursuit of their sporting goals, identity as an athlete is primary. Sacrifices are made in every other area of their lives as sport becomes their sole focus. Whilst there are many perceived benefits to embodying a strong athletic identity, for example commitment, determination, motivation and focus on sport related goals, too strong an identity with the role of ‘being an athlete’ can lead to psychological and emotional difficulties and hinder personal development beyond sport.

Research has shown that individuals with too much emphasis on their identity as an athlete experience greater difficulty in adjusting to life beyond sport; need more time and support to manage emotionally and socially after sport; and are at increased risk of poor coping.

Retirement from sport is an absolute for every athlete, and there will come a time, for whatever reason when an individual has to adjust to a life outside of sport and embrace new roles with new identities. If self-worth and competence are defined entirely by athletic endeavour, this will be a tough transition to make.

Recognising that who you are is far bigger than a single one of your roles will provide the inner strength and frame of reference for a healthier adjustment to life after sport.

Where is this happening?

Examples of this loss of identity can be seen across the mainstream media. Click through the links below to read articles about athletes who have grappled with this mental state.


How can STP help?

Having a wider sense of personal identity will provide a buffer against losses in self-esteem and worth in times when sport is not going to plan, or your sporting journey comes to an end. How well do you know yourself ‘off the pitch’? STP offer bespoke master-classes that support individuals with the development of personal identity. You will explore the different roles you play in each area of your life, and how you identify with each of these roles.

Learning outcomes:

  • Expand self-identity to other roles (personal, professional, associative, social, emotional).
  • Identify core values pertaining to how you want to life your life.
  • Discovery interests outside of sport that are aligned with your core values, competencies and enjoyments.
  • Nurture supportive relationships with those who care about your personal as well as professional growth.
  • Create a personalised action plan that facilitates movement towards personal values in the various roles you fulfil in and outside of sport.


If you are interested to learn how you or your organisation can participate in, or deliver, these masterclass session, please contact leon.lloyd@switchtheplay.com.

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