You are half way through the year and it’s time you start making those tough decisions of what you want to be when you grow up and what path you need to take to get there.
I will be honest, when I was in matric doing my prelims, I still did not know what I wanted to become. I luckily had a passion for sport and then the magical words came from my mum, “I don’t care what you do, but you will go to varsity and study something in sport.”
The first rule you need to adhere to, is, be honest with yourself and follow your passion!
Passion: What is your passion? Not what does your mother and father want you to become? What drives you, what do you end up spending most of your time with and what activities don’t feel like work?
If you love numbers, well, then you know what path you should take. If you are analytical, then perhaps engineering? If you want to make the cash of the future, then IT, is definitely the route to go. IT, even during a recession has been a near guaranteed field to make money.
If you love sports, then carry on reading, perhaps I can guide you to choose a path.There are four main areas when studying Sport or “Human Movement Sciences” as they call it.
Sports Management: If you had to look at any sporting organization in the world, you will see an engine running in the background. Don’t ask the driver to come around back and fix it, support or manage the engine, this would be your job. It does take a special person to pull all the strings together to make the engine run well.
I have personally seen PSL teams get regulated, not because they had a poor coach or that they were short of talented players but ultimately, poor management. The minute they directed their attention to structure, they were promoting back into the PSL and now running a fairly good engine.
This is a highly stressed job because you need to have good organizational skills, good communication skills, need to be able to cope under high pressure and most importantly multi task. Out of all the degrees and Honours degrees, you are more secure and have more job opportunities doing sports management than any other sports degree.
Sports Psychology: The mind is a fascinating high tech piece of machinery and if you have a passion for working with people in unlocking their inner potential or motivating them for future success then this is the career path for you. The first 3 years of psychology were my best, not because 90% of my classmates were women, but because psychology has the ability to open up your mind to understanding people better and helps you see the underlying motivator that fuels your external motivations.
By learning to understand people better, your journey through life becomes more enjoyable. In the late nineties, it was required, that you become a full blown Psychologist first, before you could diversify into Sports Psychology but in todays times, you can take up Sports Psychology in your honours year. There is a huge skills gap in this field and make you some serious money tapping into this market.
Sports Scientist: I will never forget my third year at varsity. I took a trip to Cape Town with my mate Robert Deere Jones to visit Professor Tim Noakes. The guru of the Sports Science world. Basically, we set off to go and see the all-knowing “Oracle” for advice. My question to Prof Noakes was, “How do I make money out of this Sports Science thing?”
He looked at me, half eating a muffin – back in the days when he was eating muffins, and said to me, “There is no money in Sports Science. If you become a researcher, you will make a living, but you will never be rich” I asked him another question. “If you could have it all over again, what area would you focus on most?” He said, “I would focus on the youth because your advice as a scientist will have the biggest impact on their development and the rewarding part is that they will listen, unlike most of the professional athletes he gives advice to”
That day I learnt an important lesson. Ask the Oracle a stupid question and you will get a limited and stupid answer. Ask the Oracle the right question and it could shape your future. Subsequently, I have been running a youth Sports Science business for just over 10 years now and there are plenty of room and opportunity to make a name and money for yourself. In my biased opinion, Sports Science is one of the most emotionally rewarding and exciting fields in the world.
Biokinetics: From experience this field is primarily seen dominated by woman and people who want to help others recover from mild to serious injuries. What you need to understand with biokinetics in varsities is that they make it sound like it is the “be all and end all” of a sports degree, which it is not.
The market in this field is quite saturated and hence they limit only 20 candidates per year per university to obtain their honours degree. Instead of someone telling you it is the better option, my best advice is following your passion. If it is your passion for rehabilitating people, then jump in with both feet and go for it. Your goal is to gain experience from other practices, but ultimately if you want to look after your family, you need to be good and open up your own practice.
Sports is an exciting field, no matter what field you are going to choose. I can honestly say it is not going to be easy, but as long as you have the hunger in your eye and the passion for what you do. Nothing really seems as bad as it is.
When it does seem like the end of the world, it will be time to evaluate what you are doing, pivot into another niche market and then to find your groove. If you want any more advice, you are most welcome to contact me on twitter @SeanVStaden or post below.
What interests you ? Share your thoughts below or on twitter @SeanVStaden