Most players looking to play professionally overseas don’t really have any idea how to do it! This is not your fault; unless you know someone who has done it or have incredible connections already in the pro world of your sport – you try searching Google and barely anything comes up. A few agencies, some club team pages, maybe an incomplete Wikipedia page about a league or two.
Besides how to actually get a job playing sports and take the leap over the big blue ocean, there does exist a general timeline to when certain things should be happening.
Pro sports are cyclical. What might be a frenzy of hiring in August right before the season starts can occur again in January at midseason transfer periods. Players coming out of university eligibility are ready to go pro at different times, depending on graduating in December or May. There are also a bunch of short season (3-4 months) professional sports jobs with their own kind of timeline, but I won’t cover those very much as I am still learning about them myself.
We’ll keep this calendar in order of the main sports seasons (August through May) so it can be used as a general reference year-round.
FIRST STEPS (JANUARY – MAY before you want to go pro)
Do your research as best as you can.
Contact current and previous pro players.
Contact agents and agencies to find the best fit for your goals.
Learn about different leagues, levels, and countries.
Read Navigating Sports Abroad blog post.
Read Play Abroad 101 for the most accurate preparation in print.
Create your pro sport brand social media platforms, while also tightening up your social media image from the past (any inappropriate/upsetting/unnecessary comments, photos, videos, etc.).
Dedicate a Google Drive folder to your documents, photos, and videos, so you can easily attach and link your information to teams.
Build your CV (player resumé) to show your basic data, playing history, accomplishments, and video.
JUNE & JULY
Build social media presence with network and posts.
Download WhatsApp onto your smartphone and activate before leaving your country.
Workout and post what you’re doing and progress on social media.
Be in touch with your new team’s coach, fitness trainers, and teammates to be as prepared physically and mentally as possible for where you are going.
Detail your Goals & Vision for the next month, year, and five years.
Prepare yourself and your suitcases to „move“ your entire life into usually just two bags.
Start packing at least two weeks before flight date.
Continue social media posts and networking! ALWAYS!
Be working out at 100% mid-season condition to be able to start pre-season practices in your top condition.
Create a healthy daily routine for yourself as quickly as possible.
Activate your home internet and get a local cell phone plan (usually way cheaper than international plans).
Work on integrating the local language into your day-to-day activities.
Preseason practices and scrimmages. Every day is a tryout and poor performances this early in the season are cause for being sent home early.
Network locally with sponsors, fans, and new friends.
Find your bank, grocery store, train/bus station, places to eat, etc.
Plan ahead for keeping in touch with loved ones back home.
First impressions are everything right now. First home games, first away games; absolutely be in your best mental, physical, and emotional state to perform at the level you know you are capable of.
Spend time with your teammates outside of your sport.
Bump up social media presence with match schedule invitations, highlights, and photos with fans.
Ask about any local traditions or holidays coming up and plan to spend those with teammates.
Practice the local language in public with people you don’t know.
Try a totally different type of food.
Take one off-day to venture to another part of your new country.
Review your Goals & Vision and update a new version, if necessary.
Create a highlight video from the matches you have played so far. Upload to your social media platforms.
Pick 1-2 of your best matches from the first half of season and upload to your Google Drive.
Update your CV to reflect your current team and fresh playing links.
Think of new traditions for the Christmas holiday that you can implement with your new community if you are not returning home. It’s a great idea to invite your family and friends to celebrate the holiday in your part of the world, too!
If returning home, take back the things/clothing you haven’t used and think about the items you have missed to bring back with you.
Pay attention to your nutrition during the holiday season; enjoy the food, but remember you are in the middle of your season and your eating choices should show that.
Continue maintenance workouts during any time off you may have.
Integrate your New Year’s Resolutions into your Goals & Vision.
Start thinking about whether you will want to return or not for the next season and organize your thoughts for why or why not, what the conditions should be, and so on.
Communicate with your representation these thoughts before talking to anyone at your club.
Discover two more new places or experiences in your country, one on your own and another one shared with someone else.
Share these moments on your social media platforms to show your interest in the culture.
Create another 2-3 minute highlight video on your best skill. Link on CV and upload to social media.
Expect the club to schedule a meeting with you about the next season. Make sure your representation is aware of the time and date and ready to support.
(There will be a post on how to handle these meetings.)
Mid-season update with representation about expectations from both sides for next season.
Work to bump social media presence up another level by connecting with other pro athletes and coaches throughout your league, country, and continent.
Find ways to keep yourself fresh, both mentally and physically.
Finish regular season matches strong, potentially building toward playoffs.
Contact an accountant who can assist you with earned income abroad from fall part of season for upcoming taxes.
Review your Goals & Vision. Are you where you wanted to be? Is it better or worse than you hoped?
Write an end-of-season recap, relating to your Goals & Vision, and have an entire section on things you have learned.
Make sure your connections with the local community and wider volleyball community are secure and you can contact them after you leave the area.
Close any bank accounts, internet/phone plans, forward your mailing address, etc., before leaving the area.
Transfer your locally earned currency back to your home currency via PayPal or bank transfer (pay attention to exchange rates and 3rd party charges).
Upload 1-2 more full match videos from the second half of the season to your Google Drive and link to your CV.
Keep in touch with your new community.
Take a 2-4 week break from your sport and social media, in order to enter June back on track and ready to go.
The next round of brand-building will include seeking out sponsors and really zoning in on the 2-3 strongest social media platforms for you to focus on (both what has been more natural for you and what has garnered the most interaction should go into which ones are „best“).
Get the eBook!
Originally published July, 2018, on What Up, Swags?!