Student-Athletes: Keeping an Eye on Signs of Burnout

If you have a child who plays sports, you may be acutely aware of the intensity of their training schedule. Sports provide kids of all ages with a physical outlet as well as exposure to leadership, teamwork, and self-discipline. When we think about these aspects of sports, it is important that we realize there can be a downside. Athletes want to demonstrate strong ethical standards. They don’t want to let their teammates or coaches down, which could lead them to over-train to the extent of injury or burnout.

What is Training Burnout?

Burnout is a kind of stress syndrome that develops when we do too much and focus too little on the recovery aspect of a particular project, task, or sport. At first, burnout may appear as a performance plateau or loss of motivation. If not recognized and handled at this early stage, burnout can progress into a chronic stress response that could ultimately end a youth’s love of sports.

Recognizing the Signs of Training Burnout

Parents and coaches should be aware of the signs of burnout, including:

  • Emotional signs including disinterest, moodiness, or irritability.
  • Cognitive signs including difficulty concentrating.
  • Physiological signs including increased resting heart rate and loss of appetite or trouble sleeping.
  • Decreased coordination and strength.
  • Frequent bouts with an illness such as colds or frequent minor injuries.

How to Minimize the Risk of Training Burnout

A primary way to prevent training burnout is to know that the risk exists. This allows parents and coaches to implement appropriate strategies, such as:

  • Parents, limit how many teams a child is on at one time.
  • Keep training time under 16 hours a week.
  • Cross-train as much as possible to build resiliency through varied activities.
  • Ensure adequate hydration during practices and games.
  • Ensure proper sleep on a nightly basis (children and teens need between 8 and 11 hours).
  • Give athletes a diversion from sports training by entertaining other interests, such as arts or other recreational activities.

The competition of today’s youth sports is high, especially at elite levels of play. Athletes can do well to remember that old saying “work hard, play hard.” In their situation, sports is their work, and play is their downtime to slough off the stress of competition.

Schedule a Consultation

Advanced Orthopedics and Hand Surgery Institute has comfortable offices in New Jersey to assist families with accidental sports injuries and other conditions. For more information on our services, contact our office today by calling (973) 942-1315.

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