Follow The Leader Blog

Burnout Recognition & Prevention in Youth Athletes

by Trevor Budewitz | Mar 22, 2016

Burnout is a state of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. The condition isn’t specific to adults, youth athletes are capable of getting burned out as well. This is important to recognize and prevent because being active greatly contributes to an overall healthy lifestyle.

Children typically start playing soccer at a very young age. Some children are taught the basics of the game as soon as they can walk. The early training and repetition is extremely beneficial and can form many positive habits. However, it is important to consider the toll one sport can take on a person when played over a lifetime.

In sports, burnout can result from two main areas. The first being a constant pressure to win, train and perform. The second being a feeling of being stuck which occurs when athletes invest a lot of time and energy into their sport, but do not experience enjoyment from it. This is when the cost of playing outweighs the benefit.

If you think your child may be experiencing burnout there are several key signs. Physical signs to look for include fatigue, irritability, decreased energy level, inconsistent performance, and exhaustion.  Behavioral indicators are depression, feeling of helplessness, anger and disappointment.  

Burnout can easily be prevented. The first way is simply to take some time off. If your child has been playing their entire life it may be beneficial to take a brief break. When they come back they will be recharged and ready to play again.

A second way to prevent burnout is to teach your child ways to manage their stress. Eliminating the pressure to win is one of the most important ways to assist your child with stress management. Allowing your child to make sports-related decisions can also be beneficial.