“When an athlete transfers into the world beyond sport, they’re stepping out of the bubble; you have your life mapped out for you… athletes are transferring to a world where that doesn’t happen.” And with that observation Rob Vickerman, the ex-captain of England Sevens and a Premiership Fifteens player of 11 years, summed up the problem that faces all retiring athletes.
By John Portch
Retirement is just one of the transitions that rugby players may face during their careers – some of the others are discussed in greater depth here – and Vickerman himself was forced to retire at just 29 following a serious neck injury and numerous concussions. Since then he has gone on to found workathlete, a health and wellbeing consultancy taking messages from sport and theory to implement into business. He also has a first class degree in Leadership and Management, and post graduate qualifications in Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology.
The basis of our conversation is the Transition Talks Vickerman delivers as an Alumni Representative for the Rugby Players’ Association [RPA]. His work also takes in various schools and rugby teams and today he touches upon areas such as:
-The five fundamental areas of wellbeing;
-The importance of learning through kinesthetics [learning by doing] for the modern player;
-Positive psychological interventions that he or coaches can make;
-Developing skillsets beyond rugby;
-The differences in working with team and individual athletes;