As a personal trainer, I love working with athletes who wish to strengthen their bodies to avoid injury and prepare for their sport. The best part of my job is working with young people to rehabilitate them mentally and physically and get them back in shape and ready to perform.
Even though athletics are fun and build team spirit, did you know that the rate for athletic burnout in kids and young adults is skyrocketing? The most common reason behind this is the fact that they feel too much pressure to perform and so they push their bodies beyond what they can physically and mentally handle.
Burnout is basically "physical and emotional exhaustion, sport devaluation, and reduced athletic accomplishment." When this happens, depression and anxiety can become a huge problem, especially in young adults and teens.
At a young age, children are building patterns that they will eventually carry on to adulthood, which is why it is so important that kids avoid taking on too much and getting burnt out. I will talk more about how this affects children as far as adrenal fatigue, in a later post. Allowing students to take time off and limit their time performing, will allow for them to experience other things outside of their sport.
Kids who feel entrapped or are receiving excessive pressure to win, will get burnt out a lot faster than others. It is important to balance sports alongside other experiences that they enjoy, especially just hanging out with friends without the sports being involved.
Symptoms of burnout:
Decreased energy level
Increased occurrence of illness
Ways to avoid burnout:
Take time off from the sport, or cut back time being invested. I recommend that they cut back on the number of days that are committed to practice or limiting the length of practice per day.
Teach your child stress-relieving/relaxation stretches (new post coming soon) and breathing techniques.
Observe what pressures may be weighing on your child whether at home or on the field. Many times they will feel pressure to perform because of money invested, pressure from the coach, or some other pressure to win/perform from other sources.
Make sure you are observing how your child works with their teammates, and encourage positivity.
I want to make sure that coaches, parents, and even the students themselves understand that burnout is a real thing and that it does affect everybody. Putting pressure on yourself and others is going to cause a lot of tension, anxiety, and feeling unfulfilled. Play a sport because it's something you love, not something you are pressured into or feel like you should be doing to impress a family member or friend.
Keep checking back as I delve more into the athletic world. I look forward to learning more and raising more awareness. Please remember, I am NOT against sports as a whole. I just believe that there is a lot to be learned in order to make sports better.
Until next time,