Understanding Athlete Burnout
Athlete burnout is defined by Sport Psychologists as: physical/emotional exhaustion, sport devaluation, reduced athletic performance and accomplishment”.
Burnout can occur at a VERY YOUNG AGE. I’ve personally met many 12 yrs old with serious signs of burnout. But sadly there are a number of parents who refuse to believe their kids are too young to burnout, instead they insist that what their kids need is to be pushed to reach excellence.
Here are few scientific findings about burnout:
- Burnout occurs due to excessive stress and pressure. For example, constant pressure to win games, to train and perform very well. But also pressure from parents who want their kids to do their best at all times.
- Feeling trapped or entrapment: the athlete has invested a lot of time and energy into the sport but does not experience any rewards from participation or enjoyment in the sport. This does not mean they HATE the sport, it simply means they no longer want to put out that much effort.
- Sociologist and sport Psychologists have found that competitive youth sports controls the identity of participants and controls their lives, leaving them feeling disempowered. In other words, your sport season dictates who you are and how you will live your life. Example: practice times, games, tournaments, showcase, personal life, road trips and even your budget. Everything is done around the sport
Burnout physical signs:
Tension, depression, fatigue, irritability, decreased energy level, problems sleeping, increased occurrence of illness and frequent signs exhaustion. Feeling of disappointment, feelings that their contribution to the team is insignificant.
Inconsistent performance : this one is a powerful indicator!!!
Today, every athlete is searching for their ultimate goal, which is play in college, professional, national team etc. But If you are able to enjoy training hard and playing the game while searching your dream, then you are on your way.
On the other, there are many young athletes who struggle every week during games, they looked stressed and LOST during the game, even to a point where parents and fans have to constantly remind him/her to wake up or execute certain moves etc, this could be small indicators of burnout.
To solve this issue sometimes all you need is a SMALL adjustment, as simple as, playing in a LESS competitive league or simply REST/take some time off!
It is important to understand the signs of burnout because if you ask a kid if they had fun, they “sometimes” will tell you what you want to hear to simply please the adults. But this WILL backfire in the long run. These issues need to be detected and resolved before joining a college or even professional career. Otherwise, you are looking at more serious psychological problems in the future.
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