5 Passive Income Streams for Professional Athletes

As a pro athlete, your career is short-lived. This may sound harsh, but it is just a fact when you compare this profession with most others.

Many professional sports players retire in their early or mid-thirties, some even sooner due to injuries.

Based on this information, it may feel as if your entire life earnings are being compressed into a few years. It is then up to you to get through the rest of your life with this money.

The habit of reckless spending and lack of alternate income sources are factors that can make the post-retirement financial situation rough for many athletes.

According to statistics1, 60% of NBA players go broke within five years of leaving the league. At the same time, 78% of former NFL players face financial distress after only two years of retirement.

Therefore, it is important to build sustainable passive income streams before retiring, so you can stay afloat when the wild waters of post-retirement life try to wreck your boat.

In this article, we share some top passive income ideas that you can implement with the skills you already have.

5 Passive Income Streams for Professional Athletes

Being an athlete and relying on your professional salary as your only source of income is a formula that could very well result in bankruptcy.

Here are a few passive earning ideas you can implement to create your own alternate income sources:

1- Getting Endorsements/ Becoming a Sports Influencer

Endorsements account for a massive chunk of star players’ salaries. There are many professional athletes who make more from endorsements than they make from the field. So winning endorsement contracts from brands can be an excellent way of earning extra dollars without putting in a lot of effort.

Before you sign this idea off thinking only star athletes can win sizeable endorsement contracts, know that that’s not true.

You can get a sponsor from brands even if you are not Stephen Curry. Of course, the brand may not be Under Armor, but you can get enough money to bump your annual income up significantly.

Getting sponsors and endorsement contracts is a great passive income idea for people with a public presence.

But if you are yet to become a public star, you can use social media to build your public presence and attract brands.

Becoming a sports influencer is a thing. Sports influencers are pretty successful and make a living doing what they love.

Many professional athletes2 who are yet to become stars have a substantial social following and get sponsors from brands.

Naomi Osaka is a professional tennis player and a social sports influencer. A scroll through her Instagram shows her various collaborations with popular brands, such as Levi’s. Joshua Patterson, a professional rugby player, is also a sports influencer who has built himself a sustainable career off the field on Instagram.

But becoming a successful sports influencer requires work. You have to build your personal brand and stay consistent with it. You also have to nurture a community of like-minded people who you can “influence”.

Then you can reach out to and collaborate with brands and gradually convert your social presence into a sustainable income stream.

2- Investments

The value of money depletes over time. Therefore, investing your earnings in assets that have the potential to grow over time can be better than saving all of it.

There are many investments you can make as an athlete. You can start your own business, invest in a pre-established business, or buy real estate.

Serena Williams3 and Maria Sharapova4 are two tennis legends who chose to walk down the business avenue after successful sports careers and have diverse business portfolios.

Lance Armstrong, a professional cyclist, invested in Uber5 when it was young, and apparently, that investment saved his family.

So, athletes venturing into business is not unusual.

Real estate investments also make for excellent passive income streams. You can invest in a valuable property and then rent it out to generate a steady income every month. Buying and renting or selling properties is likely to require a bit of upkeep- but you can reduce the need for your direct involvement by hiring a property manager.

Still, investment is a risky business. Many professional athletes are notorious for losing large sums of money on scams and “get rich overnight” schemes. So, it’s usually a good idea to talk to your financial advisor and do your homework before going in with your money.

3- Write A Book

Writing a book is another great way to share your expertise or stories with the world while potentially making some big bucks out of it.

Many professional athletes have immortalized their existence by condensing their life stories into autobiographies. However, if your life is not as interesting as Ted William’s or Walter Payton’s, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on this idea for passive income.

You can write books sharing your game insights, helping young athletes learn from your experience and avoid the mistakes you made.

There are examples of professional athletes who have written books that serve as manuals on improving at a particular sport.

The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams and The Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant are two prime examples of how professional athletes can make money by sharing what they have in abundance – knowledge of the sport.

You don’t have to be a great writer yourself to publish your own book. You can hire a writer to help you present your story in compelling words.

However, as with any venture, writing a book and using it to earn money would need an investment of time, effort, and money. Even after the book has been completed, you will still need to promote it across various channels to bump up sales and have a chance at creating a significant income stream.

And, of course, your story will have to be compelling and presented in an engaging way to be able to make for a good read.

4- Create and Sell Your Course

Along the lines of coaching and writing a book is creating and selling your own course. This passive income idea allows you to share your expertise while staying behind the screen.

You can pick what you are good at and draft a curriculum based on that. Once you have the curriculum planned out, it’s time to find the best online course platform for you and then begin developing everything.

If you decide to go this route, know that you won’t be the only pro athlete doing this. Larry Fitzgerald Jr., Maria Sharapova, and Kerri Walsh Jennings are among a few of the many professional athletes who are sharing their on and off-the-field insights through online courses.

5- Provide Coaching Lessons

While not exactly passive, providing coaching services can be an excellent alternate income stream. It can eventually help you transition smoothly into a different career when you retire while keeping you closely tied to what you love.

There are many professional athletes for you to take inspiration from who chose the coach life6 post-retirement.

One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Larry Bird, turned to coaching for a brief period post-retirement. Mario Zagallo is another example of a professional football player turned-manager.

Becoming a professional coach is a great way to make a sustainable living with the skills you already have while staying close to the field.

You don’t have to wait for your retirement to start a coaching career either. If you have time to spare between leagues or games, try to fill that up by providing private training sessions. This way, you are more likely to have a thriving career to transition to once you are off the field.

But before you jump into a coaching career, know that becoming a coach is more than just being a teacher. It requires excellent communication and leadership skills, a positive mindset, and an ability to motivate people.

Final Word

Your athletic career is short, and the earning window is limited. As a result, you’ll likely have to look for alternate income sources in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

If you start developing passive income streams now, you are more likely to have a cushion to fall back on after retirement.

There are numerous avenues you can explore when building multiple income streams.

Keep in mind that each of these options comes with its own risks and choosing the right income stream that can sustain you post-retirement can be complicated.

That’s why we recommend you consult with a financial professional to get help navigating the murky waters of passive income streams. They have the knowledge to help you make informed decisions regarding strategies that may be appropriate for your specific
circumstances. reliable alternate sources of income by getting a financial plan tailored to your current financial status and goals.

The financial professionals at Dayton and Sydney Wealth Strategies Group have extensive experience helping athletes with personalized financial planning and assistance. Contact us today to begin creating a financial plan that is tailored to your current financial status and


This article is for informational purposes only and provided as a convenience based on our general understanding of the subject matter. Equitable Advisors, its affiliates and financial professionals are not affiliated with any company, organization, association, or individual mentioned here.


1 “Money lessons learned from pro athletes’ financial fouls” Chris Dudley, CNBC May 15, 2018

2 “20 Sports Influencers Every Brand Should Know About” Jacinda Santora, Influencer Marketing Hub, June 30, 2020.

3 “From Tennis Player to a Businesswoman, This is How Serena Williams Makes Money” Purav Joshi, Essentially Sports, November 11, 2020.

4 “‘Keeps Me Motivated’: Maria Sharapova Reveals What Drives Her to Sustain a Successful Business Empire” Arjun Athreya, Essentially Sports, May 2, 2021.

5 “Lance Armstrong says his investment in Uber ‘saved our family’” Lauren Feiner, CNBC, Dec 6,2018.

6 “Top 10 great players turned coaches” Steven Saunders, ESPN, Dec 19, 2013.

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