Over generations, the world of athletics has changed by becoming more rigorous, competitive, and straining on the body. In terms of specialization, young athletes are forced to decide what sole sport they want to pursue, which allows them to devote all their time and effort into one sport. This early specialization helps to improve skill training, but sometimes results in overuse injuries and burnout. Burnout is defined as an exhaustive psychophysiological response to excessive stress or dissatisfaction in meeting training demands. The symptoms of burnout include mood changes, emotional isolation, increased anxiety and lowered self-esteem.
Burnout is one of the many concerns of parents with young athletes and parents often work to help their child avoid this unsettling end to an athletic career. Several strategies have been developed to help prevent or reduce the chance of burnout in sport settings, including:
- Monitoring critical states of stress or recovery
- Setting short-term goals for practices and competitions
- Taking relaxation breaks
- Learning self-regulation skills
For example, developing psychological skills such as relaxation, imagery, and positive self-talk can help defend oneself against much of the stress that leads to burnout. Parents, coaches, and athletes themselves should be on the lookout for signs of burnout and take the action necessary to avoid it.
Mind Over Body at Southeast Psych equips athletes and coaches to optimize athletic performance and live healthier lives. For more information related to sports psychology, visit Mind Over Body’s website and follow @MindOverBodySEP on Twitter.