Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Ready to Go Pro?

Welcome to Alpinetgheep! We are excited to share valuable insights on how to continue your career as a professional athlete. Whether you’re an NCAA player, a Division I athlete, a DIII player, or have experience in NAIA or junior college, we have the tools and information you need to navigate the path to becoming a pro.

The Journey Begins

Embarking on your professional career is an exhilarating adventure. Imagine boarding a plane to your final destination, ready to start your 11th year as a professional athlete in the Polish Plus-Liga. This year may be different due to Covid-19, but the opportunity to continue your career as a professional athlete overseas is an experience many athletes don’t realize is possible.

How Can I Continue My Career as a Professional Athlete?

You may have questions about how to take the next steps in your career. Our aim is to provide you with the necessary information and tools to ensure you are well-prepared for the journey ahead. We want to guide young athletes like you, ensuring you have the awareness and knowledge to thrive in the world of professional sports.

Before diving into the details, let’s set the stage and explore the opportunities that await you overseas. Contrary to common misconceptions, there are numerous destinations where American athletes can compete in foreign professional volleyball leagues. For the 2019-20 season, USA Volleyball processed a record-breaking 456 international transfer certificates, allowing United States citizens to compete abroad.

Some popular destinations for American men’s international transfers include Germany, England, France, and Italy. The USA men’s national team also has players competing in Italy. This demonstrates that there is a wide range of possibilities for American athletes to showcase their skills on a global stage.

Understanding the Financial Landscape

One of the most common questions aspiring professional athletes have is about salaries. It’s important to note that salaries can vary greatly depending on factors such as position, league, team, season length, and skill level. While it’s impossible to provide a one-size-fits-all answer, we can offer some insights.

In some countries, like China and India, where seasons are shorter, athletes have the opportunity to take contracts in Europe after their season ends. This can be a great way to extend the playing season and earn additional income. However, it’s crucial to remember that salaries also depend on the league and position.

Typically, opposites, outside hitters, and setters command higher salaries, while liberos and middle blockers may earn smaller salaries due to various factors, including foreigner quotas. Athletes who haven’t been on their national team or received postseason honors can expect to earn around $10,000-$25,000 in their first year abroad. Those who have showcased their skills on the senior national team can command higher salaries, ranging from $30,000-$100,000 for their first contract.

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The financial landscape becomes even more promising as athletes progress in their careers. Climbing through the ranks and gaining experience can lead to earning $25,000-$100,000. For standout players who have climbed the ladder and become national-team starters, salaries can range from $80,000-$200,000. The most successful athletes on Team USA can even command higher salaries.

The Perks of a Professional Contract

Beyond salaries, professional contracts often come with additional benefits. Many teams and leagues offer perks to ensure their athletes are well taken care of. These perks can include housing provisions, meals, transportation, and even flight tickets for loved ones. Teams may provide apartments, meal vouchers, and cars, depending on the league and team.

It’s essential to remember that these perks can greatly reduce the cost of living, allowing athletes to save a substantial amount of their income. So while the contract numbers might not always be eye-catching, the overall financial package and quality of life should be considered.

The Importance of an Agent

Many athletes wonder if they need an agent to navigate the professional sports world. While it’s not mandatory, having an agent can be tremendously helpful. They can negotiate contracts, advocate for their clients, and provide valuable guidance throughout the process.

When selecting an agent, it’s crucial to ensure they have your best interests at heart. Look for agents who are honest, responsive, and proactive in addressing any issues that may arise with clubs or teams. Building a trustworthy relationship with your agent is essential for a successful career.

We recommend two agents who have proven to be reliable and dedicated to their clients:

  1. Nisse Huttunen (Finland): With partners in Brazil and Poland (Michalak Brothers), Nisse has been in the industry for 10 years. He has consistently supported his clients and has a reputation for going above and beyond to protect their interests.

  2. Chiara Castagnetti (Italy): Although new to the men’s side, Chiara has garnered praise from American athletes she represents. She has a strong track record of helping players find opportunities to grow and improve their skills.

While there are many other reputable agencies, we can personally vouch for Nisse and Chiara based on our experiences and feedback from athletes who have worked with them.

Navigating Different Leagues

Understanding the differences between leagues is vital when considering your professional career. Various factors, such as the level of competition, salary potential, foreigner quotas, and quality of life, can vary significantly from league to league.

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Let’s explore the characteristics of different leagues:

Tier 1 Leagues: Italy, Russia, Poland, Brazil

  • Italy: Considered the best league in the world, Italy’s top teams attract prominent international players. There is no shortage of talent, and the league allows up to four foreigners per team.

  • Russia: Known for its towering athletes and high salaries, the Russian league permits only two foreign players per team. The financial rewards can be substantial for those who can secure a spot.

  • Poland: Considered one of the deepest leagues globally, Poland’s Plus-Liga boasts a large number of talented Polish players. While teams can sign as many foreigners as they want, only three can be on the court simultaneously.

  • Brazil: The Brazilian Super League is known for its passionate fan base and intense training environment. The league typically allows four foreign players, but teams can face financial instability due to sponsor fluctuations.

Tier 2 Leagues: France, Turkey, Argentina

  • France: Often underrated, France offers a competitive league with a strong emphasis on ball control, team blocking, and defense. With a quota of six foreigners per team, there are excellent opportunities for athletes looking to showcase their skills.

  • Turkey: Turkish teams offer attractive salaries, particularly for physical opposites and outsides. However, the overall level of the league might not be as high compared to Tier 1 leagues.

  • Argentina: The league in Argentina is challenging due to the abundance of local talent. However, Covid-19 has impacted the league, resulting in an influx of players into European leagues.

Tier 3 Leagues: Germany, France B, Belgium, Greece

  • Germany: The Bundesliga has seen recent financial challenges due to the pandemic, but top teams like BR Volleys continue to compete at a high level. Germany is known for its quality of life and generally friendly environment for North American athletes.

  • France B: The second league in France, France B, offers opportunities for players looking to demonstrate their skills and potentially move up to France A. The focus on team block, defense, and tactics makes it a great learning environment.

  • Belgium: Belgium features two teams with larger budgets, allowing them to compete in Champions League. However, the overall league level varies.

  • Greece: Once a prominent league, Greek teams have faced financial difficulties in recent years. However, the league is working to restore its reputation and attract international players with feasible contracts.

Tier 4 Leagues: Finland, Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, England

  • Finland: Despite its dark and cold winters, Finland provides an excellent testing ground for athletes. The league allows up to four foreigners, and the environment offers opportunities for growth and development.

  • England: England serves as a last-chance league for athletes looking to get their foot in the door in Europe while pursuing their master’s degrees. Although the league may not be as competitive as others, it can be a stepping stone to higher-level leagues.

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Bonus Tier – Asia: Japan, Korea, China

  • Japan and Korea: Highly competitive leagues with opportunities for foreign players, but with strict regulations like a one-foreigner quota. The training schedule and intensity can be demanding, but the financial rewards are substantial.

  • China: China’s league has been growing, attracting national-team players from various countries. The training regimen is less intense than Japan and Korea, and the shorter season allows players to join European teams afterward.

The Journey Begins

Becoming a professional athlete is an exciting and rewarding endeavor. With more than 450 American players leaving the United States to play professionally last year, the possibilities are greater than ever. You can continue doing what you love while experiencing life abroad.

At Alpinetgheep, we hope to be your guide throughout this process. Whether you have questions, need advice, or want to connect with other athletes, we are here to support you. Remember, your dedication, hard work, and preparedness are crucial factors in determining your success as a professional athlete.

Connect with Dustin Watten on Instagram (@dustinwatten) and explore his website (www.noezybuckets.com) for more insights into the world of professional volleyball.

FAQs

Before we conclude, let’s address some frequently asked questions:

Q: How can I find a professional team overseas?
A: Reach out to former teammates playing overseas, connect with agents, and upload videos of your matches to showcase your skills.

Q: Is it necessary to learn the local language?
A: While it can be beneficial, especially for team communication, many teams and players speak English. Language barriers vary depending on the country and league.

Q: How can I make the most of my professional contract?
A: Take advantage of the perks offered by teams, such as housing, meals, and transportation. These benefits can significantly reduce your living expenses.

Q: Should I consider playing in lower-tier leagues?
A: Lower-tier leagues can provide valuable opportunities for growth and development. Many successful athletes have climbed the ladder, starting in lower-tier leagues before securing contracts in higher-tier leagues.

Conclusion

Congratulations on taking the first step toward a fulfilling professional career. We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights and guidance. Remember, the road to success may not always be straightforward, but with dedication, hard work, and the right support, you can thrive as a professional athlete overseas.

For more information and updates, visit Alpinetgheep.com. We wish you the best of luck on your professional journey!