Success Beyond Sport with Olympian Annette Lynch – EP014

 In Podcast

When you devote your life to a single ambition, moving on after that chapter closes can be incredibly difficult. You may start to question your self-worth, or even wonder, “Who am I now?” The transition to life after sport can be especially tough for retired professional athletes who struggle to cultivate a new identity and new dreams.




Annette Lynch enjoyed a 15-year career as an elite athlete, playing volleyball for Australia and realizing her dream of representing her country in the Sydney Olympics. After the Games, Annette tried to retire, but was pulled back into the sport two years later, playing on a world tour in 2002. She would go on to retire a total of three times in the six years after the Olympics before she found a new purpose and became a certified Masters Results Coach and motivational speaker. In this new capacity, Annette seeks to help others reinvent themselves as they navigate difficult life transitions.

Annette is a practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and she has spoken at the high-profile Institute for Athletes in Retirement and Transition Conference. She is the author of Success Beyond Sport, which details her signature eight-step program to building a fulfilling life off the field. Today she shares her own journey, explaining the greatest challenges athletes face when they retire, the depression many experience as their identity shifts, and how NLP helped change her mindset and get inspired by a new dream.

Topics Covered

[5:40] When athletes should start thinking about the transition to a life beyond sport

  • Injury can finish career without notice
  • Cultivate other interests throughout
  • View sport as a stepping stone to other things
[6:44] What Annette would have done differently to make transition easier

  • Establish clear goals, direction for life after sport
  • Eliminate limiting beliefs (not qualified, not high-profile)
  • Invest in self to make dreams happen (classes, etc.)
[8:18] The greatest post-sport challenges for athletes

  • Identity (Who am I now?)
  • Money management
[10:20] The depression many athletes feel after professional career is over

  • Tend to go it alone
  • Think they’re the only ones
  • Don’t discuss (afraid to show weakness)
  • Cases of athletes who ended up in rehab (Grant Hackett, Ian Thorpe, Chantelle Newbery)
[12:24] How Annette navigated the difficult transition to life after sport

  • Personal development programs
  • Inspired by setting new goals
  • NLP helped reprioritize
[14:43] How NLP helped Annette change her mindset

  • Beliefs set at early age by family, community
  • Can choose new way of believing
  • Thought that independence was only way to succeed
  • Realized that she needed team
  • Discounted accomplishments (‘Just an Olympian’)
  • Improved self-worth by celebrating achievements
[16:39] The power of visualization

  • Created specific vision at NLP seminar, experienced very similar moment
  • Get clear on what you want and put it out there
[20:07] Annette’s advice for young athletes not yet thinking about retirement

  • Ask yourself how sport fits into big picture
  • Find interests you are passionate about
  • Set goals that inspire you
  • Consider entrepreneurship while still competing
[22:48] The one thing athletes struggling with transition can do to move forward

  • Don’t focus on what’s not working
  • Look outside the circle for what you want to create
  • Write it down, even if it’s vague
[24:35] Where athletes can turn for support in making the transition

  • Google ‘life after sport’ or ‘athlete transition’
  • Reach out to local/association programs
  • Access Annette’s program at
[26:29] Annette’s eight step process to achieve success beyond sport

  • Take responsibility
  • Set targets
  • Believe
  • Establish rules of the game (values, priorities)
  • Play like a winner (focus, mindset)
  • Develop dream team
  • Make it happen
  • Create new identity (tied to self-worth)

Learn More About Annette Lynch

Success Beyond Sport Website

Success Beyond Sport: How to Retire from Sport and Still Keep Winning by Annette Huygens-Tholen

Success Beyond Sport Online Training

Resources Mentioned

ABC Australia: After the Game

“Hitting ‘Rock Bottom’: When Professional Athletes Struggle with Life After Sport”  by Mary Gearin

Venus Williams in Inc Magazine




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