"I thought the timing was spot on," Ponting said.
In a surprise announcement, Ponting said he wanted to continue to play in both the one-day and Test sides as a batsman, while leaving the captaincy open for Michael Clarke.
Career Transition Research
Ponting has been a successful skipper and batsman. But the decision Ponting has made reveals another major issue in elite sport: career transitioning. Transitioning is a major research area. How do players transition to new roles? How do players move into retirement or a different setting? The answer, in sport, is often badly. Sadness, loss of self-identity, anger, and fear of the uncertain future are just some reactions researchers have found. Many players give little thought to life after sport. The focus, for many, is reaching and staying at the top. The thought of transitioning into a new role, like Ponting, or retiring is one that many don't consider.
In an Australian research study, an Olympic athlete illustrates with this comment, "We thought about winning, but we didn't think about what would happen [after]" (source Jackson, Dover, Mayocchi. Life After Winning Gold: Experiences of Australian Olympic Gold Medallists. The Sport Psychologist, 12 (2), 1998).
The issue is compounded for those athletes who are, unlike Ponting, forced to retire through selection or injury. In fact, research shows that retirement because of injury is the second most common cause.(source Petitpas et. al. "Athlete's Guide to Career Planning: Keys to success from the playing field to professional life"). For these athletes, the loss of control over their destiny and identity is hard to take.
Thorpe: Success in Life & Sport
Ian Thorpe, before his first retirement, consulted Deirdre Anderson to talk about the changes that would occur. Anderson is credited with a growing awareness of life transitions research in Australian sport. This is not just through her involvement with Thorpe, but through the development of the Athlete Career Education (ACE) Program. ACE started at the Victorian Institute of Sport as a way to give athletes a more balanced perspective on sport and life. The ACE program provides career and life coaching, education opportunities and even chaplaincy services. This world-first program has since been adapted by sporting codes and institutes around the world.
Ponting's decision has revealed an area of sport not often explored: transitioning. Regardless of whether Pointing can fit into the team or play a cohesive role in the next tour, career transitioning is a valuable lesson to learn. Considered transitioning is an important step for an athlete's career.
Well-Being Australia theologian comments that "in all your ways submit to him [God], and he will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:6). Our lives can seem to be blown around by life's circumstances, but God's plan of salvation is secure. In knowing God through Jesus and understanding His plan to save us, our own transitions gain richer meaning.