Athlete Burnout. How does it affect you?


What is burnout?

Athlete burnout is defined as the physical and emotional exhaustion of an athlete, a condition most prevalent in young athletes between the ages of 13 to 18.

This can be the result of too much training combined with too little rest or recovery time. On top of this, other factors such as meeting academic pressures, social needs and travel contribute to ‘burnout’.

The body needs recovery to work. Without it, performance can begin to suffer and an athlete can start to break down. Burnout is often viewed as the outcome of this breakdown process and can lead to a lack of motivation as well as complete mental and physical exhaustion.

What causes burnout?

There are three main causes ofburnout:

Social — Comparisons to your peers, which can lead to increased competitiveness or low self-esteem.

External Pressure — there may reliance on sport scholarships

Parental Push — Parents can want to live vicariously through you — this is most obvious in a sporting setting. Parents can be known to “coach” from the sidelines, which can heighten the pressure to perform to reach parents unrealistic expectations.

How does it affect you?

Burnout can have a lasting impact. It can lead to losing motivation to train and play resulting in quitting all sports and, perhaps more seriously, it can lead to injuries — both mental and physical.

As you advance through levels of competition, motivation can be driven by external rewards; trophies, scholarships, money, celebrity or approval. Sports moves from being about the joy of taking part and becomes more about what can be obtained. This then adds to the weight of performance pressure, where success is visible.

This can lead to burnout, as you can feel trapped and controlled by sport.

Signs of burnout

3 ways to avoid burnout

Communication — communicate openly with parents, coaches and captains on how your body is feeling and how you are recovering from training in order to avoid injuries. Look to document a weekly training diary, including what you have done and how you have felt before, during and after.

Individual Practice — This may mean more time stretching and conditioning or focusing on specifics skills, allowing you to take a step back from their team, focus on what makes you individually successful. Setting short term, SMART achievable goals is key to establish the feeling of success and wining.

Patience –returning to a sport after an off-season or an injury, it’s important to remember that it may take time to get back into the swing of things. Adjusting training programs and working with coaches to build confidence is crucial.

At the end of the day, sports provide the opportunity to grow, develop, and most importantly have fun. These feelings need to be fostered, nurtured and encouraged.

“Burnout is not about giving too much of yourself, it’s about trying to give what you do not possess”

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