Florian Schabereiter, ÖSV ski jumping training course

TW1N Talk: Florian Schabereiter

Florian Schabereiter is a former ski jumper, National Assistant Coach of the Austrian Women's National Ski Jumping Team 2013-2018 and National Assistant Coach of the Austrian Men's National Ski Jumping Team 2018-2019. On junior level, he won two world championships. Only granted a short world cup career, Florian had to end his sporting career due to a disease at the young age of 21. Today, he works as an area manager for Hofer KG. In our TW1N Talk, he reflects upon his lessons learnt in his dual career, both from an athlete and a coach perspective.

TW1N: Florian, do you remember the beginning of your dual career story?

Florian Schabereiter: I do. However, this story does not start with “I always knew that it is important to think about the time after being an athlete”. In fact, it was completely different. As a talent, I attended the ski boarding school in Stams, Austria. I made this decision due to the reputation of the school. A lot of the world’s best ski jumpers were among its students. This is where I wanted to be and take my chance. Future? I had no idea what I might do one day after my sporting career would have ended. As a teenager, I think it is not natural to think about post-athletic life. There was only one focus: train, train, train, to become Olympic or world champion.

TW1N: Which role did education play back then for you?

Florian Schabereiter: Truth be told, school was always an annoying “must do” for me. I felt I was in school for training and getting better in my sport, not for studying. Consequently, I struggled with my marks. It was not easy to train hard every day, being hundreds of kilometres away from home, friends and family, with the additional pressure to pass school. I remember that I originally was convinced school would hinder my sporting career. Now, with years of distance, I can tell you that it is completely different.

TW1N: Let us try to get back to this point a bit later. But first, how did your athletic career develop further?

Florian Schabereiter: Not long after finishing school and being employed by the elite sport squad of the Austrian army, I became very sick. I was not able to train for a whole year. After that year, I decided to quit my sporting career. Honestly, I did not calculate with such a situation. From one moment to the other, my dream burst. This was one of the most difficult situations in my life. It was very hard to recognize that all you worked for in the past years was suddenly gone; the biggest thing in your life which you fully identify with. This sudden cut left me stunned.

TW1N: How did you cope with this situation?

Florian Schabereiter: It surely takes some time to realize what happens and to find oneself in a “new” life. What helped me a lot in this demanding process was the counselling service which is part of the Austrian dual career scheme. Together with a professional counsellor, I had a very intense phase of analyzing my experiences, identifying my skills and, essentially, getting behind my personality which I had further shaped in the time of high performance sport.

It was relieving to learn that I apparently had built a potent skill card, encompassing aspects such as resilience, self-management, capacity for team work or rhetoric competencies due to my public appearances. All these skills can be of great value for companies, organisations or federations. This new awareness was an emotional door opener to my ensuing studies (note: Florian holds a master's degree in sport and movement science of the University of Graz, Austria) and subsequent post-athletic life in general.

Florian Schabereiter at the 4 Hills Tournament
Florian Schabereiter at the 4 Hills Tournament, Bischofshofen 2008 © EXPA/Jürgen Feichtner

"Athletes need to re-direct their thoughts"

TW1N: Earlier, you indicated that in contrast to your teenage beliefs, you no longer think that combining sport and studies is disadvantageous for an athletic career. Can you elaborate on this?

Florian Schabereiter: This would be an understatement. I do not only say a dual career is not disadvantageous, I am convinced it is highly beneficial for a sporting career. In retrospect, there is one thing catching my eye. I achieved my best athletic results when I was in situations of substantial double loads; a sport training load and a cognitive load respectively study load. Naturally, I asked myself how that could be the case. Today, I think I got some very logical answers.

First and foremost, my mind was given some "away-time" from sport during learning. As an athlete, you need to recover, to switch off. You cannot continuously be circling around the last or next jump. You need to temporarily free your brain from athletic thoughts. There is the well-known principle in sport science of the "optimum relation of workload and recovery” which refers to the required time of our body to recover after a certain workload. If you are not granting your body this time, you will get into the stage of overtraining resulting in a decreased performance curve. It is completely the same with our brain. How could it be different? Athletes need to actively re-direct their thoughts to get them off that topic which tends to monopolize their life.

TW1N: What do you mean by "actively re-directing thoughts"?

Florian Schabereiter: Even if you decide to do nothing and just relax, you will recognize that it is very difficult to switch off. It is much more effective to actively provide your brain with other "food". As an athlete, your head mainly deals with processing athletic inputs such as movement patterns, tactics or, simply, ways to improve. My message is easy: Start systematically thinking about other things! Things that do not concern your life in such a brutally direct way as high performance sport. Studying is one perfect mean for this. You can do courses, go to university, or follow any other kind of adult education. In this way, you kill two, actually three, birds with one stone.

Studying helps you to regenerate. Studying will help your future vocational career. And, finally, studying will help you feel less pressured during your athletic activities as you are aware that there is "something else"; an alternative option independent of your sporting results. In my opinion, this last point is very often underestimated among athletes. Decreased perceived pressure will most likely lead to better performance. Moreover, having another impulse next to training and competition will probably let you enjoy your training more because of loving what you do and not because being forced to succeed.

TW1N: Is this the former athlete in you speaking, or do we hear the later coach as well?

Florian Schabereiter: You clearly hear both. My observations as a coach were very similar to my findings as an athlete. One of the things I monitored most was that those athletes focusing on sport-only sometimes got bogged down in their thoughts how to get better and better. Do not get me wrong, it is an essential part of high performance athletes to think about improvement, but this improvement cannot only be found in areas directly related to sport. Though, the dose rate of measures is decisive, like in every other aspect of life. Optimising your personal dose and balancing body and mind are key, even more so in disciplines which are strongly determined by mental performance, such as ski jumping.

TW1N: Is there any final advice you would like to share?

Florian Schabereiter: To every athlete; engaging yourself in other things will positively influence both your sporting career and future life. It is as simple as that. In addition, reaching out for professional support when it comes to planning your dual career pathway would be my additional tip. It helped me to get to know myself better and make choices.

TW1N: Thank you, Florian.

The TW1N Talk gives a voice to dual career. Athletes share their story. Practitioners provide insights into their work. Researchers introduce their studies. Projects present their results. Get in touch to become part of our mission to inspire the dual career movement in Europe and beyond.


RESPECT YOUR TALENT has been an affair of the heart for TW1N in 2019. Together with the European Handball Federation (EHF), we launched this programme to take responsibility for the sustainable development of talented players across Europe, on and off the court.

Didactically, the programme aims to break new grounds. In our approach, the world's best handball players inspire young athletes in a joint effort with leading experts. These sport stars act as true ambassadors of dual career and the realization of meaningful life aside from their athletic career.

 

Inspiring the future of European handball

After a successful Summer Tour, last week, the first ever EHF RESPECT YOUR TALENT Camp was held in Vienna. In 5 training sessions, 30 female players from 18 European countries had the chance to work with Olympic champion and professional photographer Kari Aalvik Grimsbø, Champions League winner and economics & finance master’s degree holder Jelena Grubišić, French Championship top scorer 2018 and tourism student Ana Gros, IHF World Player of the Year 2013 and handball academy operator Andrea Lekic, as well as Champions League winner Anja Althaus, trained technician and hairdresser.

"Given their own pathways, the RESPECT YOUR TALENT ambassadors are true role models when it comes to personal development on and off the court."

Wolfgang Stockinger
Co-Creator of RESPECT YOUR TALENT

Learning from the best: the RESPECT YOUR TALENT "Ambassador Islands" © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff

Dual career, anti-doping, sports law, on-camera and social media training

On day 1, TW1N Founder & CEO Wolfgang Stockinger, who acts as the EHF’s Scientific Specialist on Dual Careers, and the Slovenian national team captain Ana Gros inspired the participants how education and skills outside of handball cannot only help their future vocational career but also their athletic development. Raising awareness of doping controls and procedures were then explained in detail by five-time EHF EURO champion Kari Aalvik Grimsbo and anti-doping expert Prof. Hans Holdhaus.

The following day, the camp focused on dealing with the media, concretely the use of social media and sports law. Anja Althaus and award-winning Austrian sports journalist Karoline Zobernig advised the group on how to handle media requests and answering difficult questions in interviews. The girls were then introduced to the world of social media by Andrea Lekic and the EHF’s Digital Content Manager Berenice Rallier. The pair discussed the best ways of creating content, explained what to post and what not post and gave guidance on how to protect their accounts. Signing and negotiating contracts, the dangers of match-fixing and choosing an agent were the topics explained by Jelena Grubišić. Joined by Andreas Joklik, the EHF expert for sports law, the two gave the group the lowdown on these key subjects which are often overlooked by young players.

On-camera training with Karoline Zobernig © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff

The camp also gave the girls opportunity to meet each other and the project ambassadors in a more relaxing environment. On both days, they had the opportunity to explore the Austrian capital and visit some of the most popular city attractions like the Vienna Giant Ferris wheel and the renowned Viennese Christmas market. They also learned something completely different: how to make the perfect apple strudel – an Austrian favourite.

Team building Austrian style: strudel baking at Castle Schönbrunn © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff

RESPECT YOUR TALENT continues in 2020

After our Summer Tour across Europe and the first RESPECT YOUR TALENT Camp, our project will continue in 2020 at the Men’s 18 and 20 EHF EUROs and EHF Championships. In total, seven competitions will be held over the summer of 2020 starting in July with M20 EHF EURO in Innsbruck (AUT) and Brixen (ITA) and continue with the M20 EHF Championships in Bugojno (BIH) and Riga (LAT). August will bring M18 EHF EURO in Celje (SLO) and three M18 EHF Championships in Burgas (BUL), Skopje (MKD) and Podgorica (MNE).

Happy end: the RESPECT YOUR TALENT ambassadors & Wolfgang Stockinger © Uros Hocevar/kolektiff
Stine Oftedal, EHF. TW1N, Respect your talent, Summer Tour 2019

RESPECT YOUR TALENT Summer Tour 2019

6 European countries, 6 tournaments, more than 300 participating aspiring players: The RESPECT YOUR TALENT Summer Tour 2019 of the European Handball Federation (EHF) and TW1N has come to a successful end.

During each event, players were awarded "Players of the Match" to get the chance to attend TW1N-designed workshops held by some of Europe's greatest female handball players. Our RESPECT YOUR TALENT ambassadors Stine Bredal Oftedal (Norway), Anja Althaus (Germany), Nerea Pena (Spain), Ana Gros (Slovenia) and Johanna Alhm (Sweden) were most authentic role models inspiring young European players to develop as a whole person and not only as an athlete.

Kick Off in Győr

Audi Arena Győr was the host of the first RESPECT YOUR TALENT activity day on 18 July featuring 40 players at the Women’s 19 EHF EURO. The selected players had the opportunity to hear valuable tips from the Norwegian and Győri Audi ETO KC centre back Stine Bredal Oftedal.

"I took more years to finish my bachelor’s degree; instead of three, I did it in five. I just tried to use my time, be disciplined. I also feel that it is good to focus on something else for a while and I really felt like I could do that.”

Stine Bredal Oftedal
Handball world champion 2011 & 2015

 


RESPECT YOUR TALENT logo cut

EHF & TW1N launch RESPECT YOUR TALENT

A dual career comes with a series of simultaneous transitions and developments happening on athletic, educational, psychological or psycho-social level. For athletes, it takes a great amount of management, self-regulation, career planning and social skills to be able to stay on this ambitious road and keep direction. To foster sustainable pathways of handball talents across Europe and to help these young players grow on and off the court, the European Handball Federation (EHF) and TW1N have created the international programme "RESPECT YOUR TALENT". 

RESPECT YOUR TALENT aims to support the personal development of European aspiring handball playersTW1N takes pride in having designed the methodical and dedactical concept of the project. In an innovative learning approach, the world’s best handball players act as teachers of young athletes.

RESPECT YOUR TALENT Summer Tour 2019

Summer 2019 will see our RESPECT YOUR TALENT Kick Off Events all over Europe. The EHF and TW1N are honoured to have won world-class handball players such as Stine Oftedal (Norway), Ana Gros (Slovenia), Anja Althaus (Germany), Johanna Ahlm (Sweden) or Nerea Pena (Spain) as RESPECT YOUR TALENT ambassadors. These high-level role models will lead TW1N-designed-workshops alongside 6 European tournaments to encourage young talents to take on responsibility for their own careers, both from a personal and an athletic point of view. In the next months, RESPECT YOUR TALENT will add further activities to its programme.

  • 11-21 July 2019: Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2019 in Hungary
  • 13-21 July 2019: Women’s 19 EHF Championship in Bulgaria
  • 15-21 July 2019: Women’s 19 EHF Championship in Lithuania
  • 1-11 August 2019: Women’s 17 EHF EURO in Slovenia
  • 3-11 August 2019: Women’s 17 EHF Championship in Georgia
  • 3-11 August 2019: Women’s 17 EHF Championship in Italy

References

  • Wylleman, P., Alfermann, D. & Lavallee, D. (2004): Career transitions in sport: European perspectives. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 5 (1), pp. 7-20