The nature of youth sports is growing increasingly competitive. Pair highly driven young athletes with the hype surrounding sports and you get a good number of children and adolescents who train themselves to the point of burnout. While research into youth athlete overtraining and burnout is still scarce, most youth athletes surveyed reported experiencing low to moderate levels of burnout. More burnout is experienced as athletes age from 7 to 17 years.
So, what exactly is burnout?
Burnout is best understood as a negative physical and psychological state in which athletes feel exhausted, unable to perform well, and less interested in participating in sports. There are several factors that cause burnout in young athletes, including overtraining, chronic stress, parental pressure, bad coaching, obsessive perfectionism, weak coping skills, and more.
Prevention is the best way to handle a burnout in young athletes. Here’s how you can do it.
Balance Training with Recovery
A performance slump that is caused by excessive training cannot be remedied by even more training. Training through slumps without adequate recovery periods is highly ineffective. Your athlete’s training program will need off-cycle weeks, which allow them to recover from their rigorous training demands.
Balance Sport with Other Opportunities
Take steps to ensure that athletes aren’t involved in sport to the point that they miss out on other opportunities. Encourage them to spend valuable time with friends and family outside of sports settings.
Build a Positive Support Network
Foster an environment where your athletes feel like they can rely on their peers and coaches. College athletes feel more motivated and decrease their chances of burnout when they feel like they have a positive support network.
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