Michael Phelps is arguably one of the most decorated athletes holding 22 Olympic medals 18 of them gold. However with that success came a price many athletes have to pay, the complete loss of his identity. Athletic Identity is an issue many in sports struggle with. The developmental process of Athletic Identity takes years to build and even longer to manage. Athletic Identity can produce associated problems such as depression, isolation, negative behaviour, and suicide.
As a pioneer on the subject of Athletic Identity, I often engage with college athletic departments regarding the need to focus more on athletic identity as a way to produce better people, better students, and a much better athlete. For decades we have pointed blame towards the transition athletes experience after they exit sport and enter into the real world as the reason for associated problems. However, this has been a long-standing myth. The deep-rooted problems athletes encounter upon exiting from sport are due to the lack of attention given towards athletic identity while athletes are competing in sport.
Having the ability to assist an athlete in defining who she/he is in-and-outside of sport is the developmental key to life-long success and requires less technology and a carefully structured personal developmental approach. The essence of this developmental process is the ability to tap into the core of the person and build a foundation from this point.
In an interview with Bob Costas, Michael Phelps discusses Athletic Identity and the effects it had on his life and what needed to happen to address Athletic Identity.
See the complete interview here Michael Phelps chats with Bob Costas
Dr. Mark Robinson is the Sr. Director of the Institute for Personal Player Development and one of the pioneers on Athletic Identity.