Burnout in sport. Problem solved.
Many think top level athletes reach gold in sport by a natural ability to push through the rough. Not always true. Most high level athletes hit challenges, and many need to outsource for help. I am contacted often by parents, coaches, and athletes seeking help to overcome sport related adversities. These stumbling blocks can vary from fear to boredom, but whatever the cause, if not addressed, they will lead to frustration and burnout.
We [as coaches, parents, and athletes] can also incorporate preventative training methods to stop the things that lead to burnout before manifestation. These do not have to be complicated, instead just carried out consistently. Here are some ideas:
Adopt the idea that self-worth does not waiver:
Repeat after me: “I am a person that does sport.”
The hardships that coincide with sport are a part of the sport and not you. They do not need to be all-consuming and takeover your mind and body. Hardships create a focal point, giving you something to fix, and a chance to accomplish something. This type of positive mindset is much less taxing on our psyche than thinking that we are broken with problems. It helps place the challenge outside of our mind, so we can pull it apart, and fix it objectively.
Start with fun and then infuse work:
Many qualified professionals that work with children use the line, “You gotta make it fun.” And they are correct. Top athletes, whom have gone into coaching, understand this. Of course, following serious training methods and periods of intense focus are very important, but taking days with a light-hearted approach will help maintain happiness.
Stop the music
For many playlists are priceless. I wholeheartedly thought I had to have music to make my run happen. So, when I read the idea by Clint Verran, suggesting to break the dependency, and occasionally run without music— though skeptical— I decided to strip my ears of the plastic. Surprisingly, it totally changed my running regimen and enabled me to understand my pace and tempo. Now, I no longer run with music. I know what you are thinking; ugh, how boring. I am not saying this is necessary all the time. I am actually still an advocate for working-out to music. Having music on for the 4-6 hours of practice as a gymnast, was more motivating then it was distracting. But, it is helpful to challenge the mind and body, and take time to hear your breathing and the noise associated with the technical movements of a skill-set, routine, sprint, and so forth. The more we know about our bodies in motion, the more success we will have, and this success offsets burnout.
Mix it up:
If you train in the same facility every day, for example: hockey players, ice skaters, gymnasts, basketball players, and so forth, you can benefit from crosstraining outside, or even taking a class such as yoga, Pilates, and so forth. This creates new neural pathways, heightens coordination, and builds skeletal resiliency; all of which are important factors in a burnout prevention-plan.
No one will ever be you and vice-versa. As humans, we are compelled to believe that others care more about our deficits than we do. (LIE!) Look at it this way, we are all equipped with a worry button. This needs to be used to detect danger and nothing else. Worrying if we are as good as someone else, is far from a threat to our well-being, and can infringe on our success as an athlete. Instead, focus on your own path to success. You will then last much longer in sport, than your competitors.
Science the dream
Once your dream is expressed as a goal, place it on paper to ground it. Brainstorm the dates you wish to manifest as you sketch a path. This is a great burn-out prevention strategy for anything in life, not just sport. Without this process, goals remain lifeless and seem constantly intangible. Pinpointing small objectives that lead-up to the main goal, will allow you to feed off of the on-going accomplishments. Lastly, be sure to include periods of rest as part of your goal. Even the process of goal setting and stripping it down into bite size pieces, can be taxing. Take a break and let it go from time to time, and you’ll feel more consistently motivated.
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