Top 3 Signs of Youth Sport Burnout
Youth sport burnout, while not an official mental health disorder, it is a very real condition and one experienced by literally thousands of young athletes everyday. Sport burnout is actually a collection of symptoms stemming from the over-involvement and intensity experienced in sports, leaving young athletes to feel both emotional and physical distress as a result. In some cases kids become burned out from playing a sport/sports over a long period of time (cumulative burnout), while in other instances kids feel acute burn out from shorter, more intense sport seasons (i.e. travel baseball or softball). For more information on the origins of sport burnout, as well as tips and strategies to identify and treat sports burnout, click here.
If you are a sport parent and concerned that your child might be experiencing sports burnout please read the symptoms below to see how your child stacks up.
- Lack of excitement & motivation. Remember, the #1 reason kids play sports is to have fun, so it is for this reason when you notice that your child is no longer having fun it’s time to tune in more closely to the situation. Of course, not everything about youth sports is going to be fun for your child, but the general feelings your child has about playing sports should be positive in nature. If you see that your child enjoys very little about his or her sport, it might be time to check in and see if mental fatigue is contributing to the symptoms you are witnessing.
- Lack of pride in accomplishments. When have you ever known a child to not be excited to tell you about a great play she made, or an award she won for a sports accomplishment? The reality is sports accomplishments should be a source of pride for kids, but often when kids become burned out from sports they no longer show this excitement. This kind of flat affect can be quite telling when it comes to the likelihood of sports burnout.
- Outward voicing of being tired. In some instances kids actually speak out directly about how tired they are playing their sport and ask for a break from the sport. Sadly, some parents still miss these requests because they are not paying attention, or they assume the kid will quickly work through the negative feelings over time. Of course, you might not need to immediately pull your child from sports simply because he or she is tired, but you should pay close attention any time your child outwardly shares a serious concern.
What to do next
The simple advice is if you think your child is becoming burned out from sports, it may be time to take a break. When kids no longer find sports fun and instead begin to view the experience as a job, they become vulnerable to the associated stress, potential injuries, and may turn to unhealthy means to cope with engaging in an activity they no longer enjoy. Talk to your kids, listen closely to their concerns, and refrain from simply “pushing them through” with the assumption everything will be OK again soon. If you think the problem is getting worse, consider looking into sport psychology professionals in your community that can offer help.
For more information on sports burnout please check out this DVD, and visit Advanced Human Performance Systems for additional information.