Athlete Burnout: Causes and Prevention Strategies

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Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System

Stressed footballer
The issue of youth athlete burnout is one that has been addressed on many occasions and a topic that we have referred to a number of times in our blogs. It can come as no surprise that burnout has received so much attention given that it is an issue that can have serious consequences for young people both in the short term and the long term. The benefits of being involved in sport are obvious as not only does it encourage physical activity, but also provides young people with the chance to have fun, helps them to become part of a team and also develops friendships. It also assists them in developing a lifelong healthy and active lifestyle. In the modern world where the problems of obesity and many other lifestyle illnesses are prevalent, it is important to foster healthy habits at a young age, but burnout is seen as one of the greatest threats to this ambition. It is obvious that the physical demands placed on an athlete can contribute significantly. This can be the result of too much training combined with too little rest or recovery time. On top of this, there can other pressures such as meeting academic pressures, social needs and travel.

Self-determination theory

However, it is equally true to point out that psychological issues can also be a factor in leading to burnout. This is a view that makes complete sense, as in any walk of life, if somebody is happy or getting enjoyment from what they are doing, they are most likely to stick with it, even when it becomes difficult. This is an area of sport that has been addressed by the self-determination theory and it is something that all involved in sport should be aware of. Basically it points out that any individual has three basic psychological needs – autonomy, competence and relatedness – and athletes who have those needs satisfied will experience lower levels of burnout compared to athletes who feel less satisfied. Chris Lonsdale, Ken Hodge and Elaine Rose explain what this means to an athlete in Athlete burnout in elite sport: A self-determination perspective

Within the sport context, competence refers to a perception that one is able to be effective in one’s sport. Autonomy involves feelings of volition, choice, and self-directedness, while relatedness refers to perceptions of connectedness with others. When these needs are satisfied, humans are expected to experience optimal wellbeing. Conversely, the thwarting of needs is thought to lead to expressions of ill-being (e.g. burnout)

Causes of burnout

This is an idea explored in Understanding Student-Athlete Burnout by Keith A. Kaufman who gives us an idea as to how sport can quickly change from being fun, to something that causes stress. He explains that young people usually take up sport in order to have fun, learn new skills, get exercise and make new friends – this he refers to as intrinsic reasons.

However, what tends to happen as athletes advance through levels of competition is that their motivation shifts toward extrinsic rewards such as trophies, scholarships, money, celebrity or approval. Participation stops being only about the joy of partaking in the sport itself and becomes more about what can be obtained through the sport, a change that often brings a ton of added pressure with it

As a result he suggests that this can lead to burnout because athletes begin to feel trapped and controlled by their sport. He underlines the strength of the psychological pressures by pointing out that certain burnout cycle symptoms can look a lot like clinical depression. This view is backed up by Educated Sports Parent in their Youth Sports Burnout article which outlines the three main theories about how athletes become burned out:-

Excessive stress and pressure
Constant pressure to win, train and perform can lead to mental and physical exhaustion and stress, leading to burnout.

Entrapment
The athlete who experiences feelings of entrapment has invested a lot of time and energy into the sport but does not experience any rewards from participation or enjoyment in the sport.

Empowerment
The structure of organized, competitive youth sports becomes controlling. It controls the identity of participants and controls their lives, leaving them feeling dis-empowered.

Signs of athlete burnout

As a result, it is important that those involved in sport – athletes, coaches and parents – are aware of the symptoms of burnout. According to Johanna Belz in When enough is enough: uncovering warning signs of burnout in (elite) athletes, an athlete might be suffering from burnout if they display the following signs:-

  • Constantly tired and sleeps much more than usual
  • Exhibits an increasing aversion towards the sport by showing a negative attitude in training
  • Complains about not seeing any results of his/her hard work and is fighting “a losing battle”
  • Seems to have lost all enjoyment for the sport and only trains and competes to please others or abide to a professional contract
  • Is a “24 hour athlete” and does not seem to have any other interests or friends outside of the sport
  • Exaggerates physical symptoms, feigns an injury or drags out the recovery process of an existing injury
  • Exhibits mood swings and gets easily frustrated, aggressive or depressed
  • Shows signs of disordered eating
  • Cheats in training or withdraws altogether from certain training activities
  • Has unrealistically high self-imposed performance goals and is extremely self-critical

How to prevent burnout

If these signs are being displayed by an athlete, it is important to be able to take action to address the issue and Preventing Burnout provides some useful guidelines in how to deal with the situation, by recommending the following options particularly for younger athletes.

  • Take some time off from the sport
  • Teach the young athlete relaxation and stress management techniques
  • Look at what pressures they might be experiencing. Are there pressures at home or by the coach to win, win, win?
  • Does the athlete have control over his/her own participation, or is there someone forcing them to continue with participation
  • Give your child increased involvement in making sports-related decisions and they will feel more in control
  • Look at their interactions with their teammates. Help them by providing positive social support and encouraging positive thoughts about their role on their team

Please share this post so others may benefit.

About Metrifit

Metrifit is an athlete monitoring system that gathers subjective and objective information from both coaches and athletes to drive behavior modification and improvement through insights modeled on descriptive and predictive analytics. It sounds complicated but Metrifit prides itself on its simple intuitive interface and advocates a simple effective approach that doesn’t overwhelm the athlete or the coaching/staff member. It has received high praise for its intuitive interface and it allows monitoring to be scaled for all levels of athletes and teams. Recent research by Anna Saw (Deakin University, Australia) has shown that use of Metrifit is associated with increased athlete sporting self-confidence. Metrifit is ‘athlete-centric’ helping to develop self-awareness, encourage creative thinking and emotional intelligence as well as developing ownership and responsibility within the athlete for their own success.

To find out more information please visit Metrifit Overview or contact us at
 

References

Self Determination Theory Overview
Youth sport: positive and negative impact on young athletes by Donna L Merkel
Understanding Student-Athlete Burnout by Keith A. Kaufman
Athlete Burnout | Educated Sports Parent
Athlete burnout in elite sport: A self-determination perspective by Chris Lonsdale, Ken Hodge, Elaine Rose
Metrifit Fact Sheet: Stress and the Athlete
Metrifit Fact Sheet: Sleep and the Athlete
Issue of burnout continues to pose challenges | Metrifit
Asking the right questions to assess athlete wellbeing | Metrifit

"As a school that cannot spend large amounts of money on athlete monitoring, Metrifit has provided us with a great tool for monitoring stress and athlete readiness at a great rate. Being athlete driven, we're able to get buy-in from the athlete, and drive individual or team wide conversations regarding lifestyle and performance education in the direction needed. Seeing acute and chronic stress on a real-time basis has greatly improved the way we schedule workouts and arrange travel during the season."

Derek Bol
Strength & Conditioning Coach, Valparaiso University
Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-20T22:26:45+00:00
Derek Bol
Strength & Conditioning Coach, Valparaiso University
"As a school that cannot spend large amounts of money on athlete monitoring, Metrifit has provided us with a great tool for monitoring stress and athlete readiness at a great rate. Being athlete driven, we're able to get buy-in from the athlete, and drive individual or team wide conversations regarding lifestyle and performance education in the direction needed. Seeing acute and chronic stress on a real-time basis has greatly improved the way we schedule workouts and arrange travel during the season."
"The ability to acutely monitor stress and recovery and make the correct adjustments was critical to our health and performance throughout the NCAA tournament. Metrifit has a very strong educational component. With the information we get, I am able to clearly understand the habits and behaviors of our athletes, and how they may be impacting performance."

Erik Helland

Director of Strength & Conditioning and Head Strength Coach Men’s basketball, University of Wisconsin

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T11:42:14+00:00

Erik Helland

Director of Strength & Conditioning and Head Strength Coach Men’s basketball, University of Wisconsin

"The ability to acutely monitor stress and recovery and make the correct adjustments was critical to our health and performance throughout the NCAA tournament. Metrifit has a very strong educational component. With the information we get, I am able to clearly understand the habits and behaviors of our athletes, and how they may be impacting performance."
"When our players have been only training with the national team Metrifit allows me to liaise very closely with our conditioning coaches to manage load and intensity of training during training camps. I recommend it to anyone who wants an easy to use monitoring system."

Dave Passmore

Head Coach, Irish Hockey

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-15T12:51:46+00:00

Dave Passmore

Head Coach, Irish Hockey

"When our players have been only training with the national team Metrifit allows me to liaise very closely with our conditioning coaches to manage load and intensity of training during training camps. I recommend it to anyone who wants an easy to use monitoring system."
“Metrifit has become a multifactorial platform that has helped up us provide deeper context to the decisions that we make on a daily basis in regards to the physical development of our student-athletes. We have intimately been utilizing both the subjective wellness questionnaire along with player training load data to drive professional conversation and actionable tasks to enhance the sporting results and quality of life for our student-athletes with unparalleled success.”

Kevin Schultz
Associate Director of Strength & Conditioning
Director of Olympic Strength & Conditioning
University of Wisconsin

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-20T12:12:33+00:00

Kevin Schultz
Associate Director of Strength & Conditioning
Director of Olympic Strength & Conditioning
University of Wisconsin

“Metrifit has become a multifactorial platform that has helped up us provide deeper context to the decisions that we make on a daily basis in regards to the physical development of our student-athletes. We have intimately been utilizing both the subjective wellness questionnaire along with player training load data to drive professional conversation and actionable tasks to enhance the sporting results and quality of life for our student-athletes with unparalleled success.”
"What’s more impressive is the ability to utilize the basics but at the same time have the capability to explore detailed and intricate correlative data points that helps us as coaches gain the most from our athletes. Metrifit has also served as an easy communications hub to ensure essential information is passed to the appropriate team. We are excited to what the future from Metrifit will bring."

Michael Torres

CEO, Shift Performance, Miami

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-14T14:09:22+00:00

Michael Torres

CEO, Shift Performance, Miami

"What’s more impressive is the ability to utilize the basics but at the same time have the capability to explore detailed and intricate correlative data points that helps us as coaches gain the most from our athletes. Metrifit has also served as an easy communications hub to ensure essential information is passed to the appropriate team. We are excited to what the future from Metrifit will bring."
"Metrifit has enabled us to bring to life the complexiities associated with managing the academic, pastoral and sporting demands of pupils aged 13 - 18 in a UK day and boarding school environment It has provided another bridge between coaches and sports pupis, giving pupils a space to provide honest self reflection on wellbeing and providing coaches a head start on appropriate freshness and fatigue balance across the school week."

Graham Williams

Athletic Development Coach, MSc ASCC
Millfield School, UK

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-19T14:14:37+00:00

Graham Williams

Athletic Development Coach, MSc ASCC
Millfield School, UK

"Metrifit has enabled us to bring to life the complexiities associated with managing the academic, pastoral and sporting demands of pupils aged 13 - 18 in a UK day and boarding school environment It has provided another bridge between coaches and sports pupis, giving pupils a space to provide honest self reflection on wellbeing and providing coaches a head start on appropriate freshness and fatigue balance across the school week."
"Metrifit has been hugely beneficial in supporting our coaches and back room staff to track and monitor our players training loads, performance and readiness to train. Having a one-stop shop for collating all relevant information across a holistic picture of the player allows us to help prevent burnout, injury and provide timely feedback and communication to all."

Eamonn Fitzmaurice

Kerry Senior Football, Manager

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:01:46+00:00

Eamonn Fitzmaurice

Kerry Senior Football, Manager

"Metrifit has been hugely beneficial in supporting our coaches and back room staff to track and monitor our players training loads, performance and readiness to train. Having a one-stop shop for collating all relevant information across a holistic picture of the player allows us to help prevent burnout, injury and provide timely feedback and communication to all."
"Gaelic football is an intermittent high-intensity collision-based field sport requiring high levels of endurance, strength, power, agility, and speed as well as proficiency with gaelic-related skills. These components comprise the training modalities used at the elite level and the monitoring of such a vast range of modalities is central to peak performance. The athlete monitoring tool Metrifit allows us to do this and can keep us one step ahead of our competitors."

Jason McGahan

Sports Scientist, Kildare Football, PhD Sports Science Researcher

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:23:50+00:00

Jason McGahan

Sports Scientist, Kildare Football, PhD Sports Science Researcher

"Gaelic football is an intermittent high-intensity collision-based field sport requiring high levels of endurance, strength, power, agility, and speed as well as proficiency with gaelic-related skills. These components comprise the training modalities used at the elite level and the monitoring of such a vast range of modalities is central to peak performance. The athlete monitoring tool Metrifit allows us to do this and can keep us one step ahead of our competitors."
"I've found Metrifit an invaluable resource. Not only to monitor daily wellness, readiness to train and training load within the squad, but also to monitor training load externally with additional external squads. Furthermore, Metrifit has acted as a key teaching tool, allowing young athletes associate good sleeping, eating and recovery habits to an improved sense of wellness and thus superior on-field performance."

Tommy Mooney

Strength and Conditioning Coach at DCU Sport and with Dublin Minor GAA

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-14T13:31:14+00:00

Tommy Mooney

Strength and Conditioning Coach at DCU Sport and with Dublin Minor GAA

"I've found Metrifit an invaluable resource. Not only to monitor daily wellness, readiness to train and training load within the squad, but also to monitor training load externally with additional external squads. Furthermore, Metrifit has acted as a key teaching tool, allowing young athletes associate good sleeping, eating and recovery habits to an improved sense of wellness and thus superior on-field performance."
"Metrifit is an outstanding platform to track your athletes’ wellness. It’s simple to use, easy to implement and gives outstanding information on your athlete’s subjective wellness which can be used to assign training loads. I highly recommend Metrifit for any coach looking to begin implementing technology into their program"

Brijesh Patel

Quinnipiac University, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T17:58:50+00:00

Brijesh Patel

Quinnipiac University, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

"Metrifit is an outstanding platform to track your athletes’ wellness. It’s simple to use, easy to implement and gives outstanding information on your athlete’s subjective wellness which can be used to assign training loads. I highly recommend Metrifit for any coach looking to begin implementing technology into their program"
"Metrifit is an amazingly easy-to-use yet comprehensive monitoring tool for training and recovery! The elite athletes we work with are able track and monitor their situations and states daily, in order to maximize their performance loads and recovery practices. This also helps our coaches customize the training programs ‎more effectively. I'd recommend this for any serious team / athlete or coach in wanting to bring out the very best in their long-term performances! "

Edgar K. Tham

Founder and Chief Sport & Performance Psychologist, SportPsych Consulting (Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines)

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T18:03:35+00:00

Edgar K. Tham

Founder and Chief Sport & Performance Psychologist, SportPsych Consulting (Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines)

"Metrifit is an amazingly easy-to-use yet comprehensive monitoring tool for training and recovery! The elite athletes we work with are able track and monitor their situations and states daily, in order to maximize their performance loads and recovery practices. This also helps our coaches customize the training programs ‎more effectively. I'd recommend this for any serious team / athlete or coach in wanting to bring out the very best in their long-term performances! "
"Metrifit provides immediate insight and feedback on the physical and mental states of the student-athletes.  It allows us to adjust practices and training sessions to accurately meet needs. We have been able to identify potential injury concerns, track current injury status and monitor return to play progress."

Kari Thompson

Head Volley Ball Coach, Southern Illinois University

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T15:08:31+00:00

Kari Thompson

Head Volley Ball Coach, Southern Illinois University

"Metrifit provides immediate insight and feedback on the physical and mental states of the student-athletes.  It allows us to adjust practices and training sessions to accurately meet needs. We have been able to identify potential injury concerns, track current injury status and monitor return to play progress."
"While working with the Clare Senior Hurling team (2012-2014), Horse Sport Ireland (U25 European Eventing Champions) and currently with the Limerick Senior Hurling Team, Metrifit provides our team with critical information across a number of essential aspects of elite athletic performance. You don’t really know how your players are responding to training stimuli unless you have daily data and Metrifit provides and easy to use and highly effective means of finding this critical information."

Joe O’Connor

NISUS Fitness, S&C Coach Clare Senior Hurling, Horse Sport Ireland and Limerick Senior Hurling

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T13:55:49+00:00

Joe O’Connor

NISUS Fitness, S&C Coach Clare Senior Hurling, Horse Sport Ireland and Limerick Senior Hurling

"While working with the Clare Senior Hurling team (2012-2014), Horse Sport Ireland (U25 European Eventing Champions) and currently with the Limerick Senior Hurling Team, Metrifit provides our team with critical information across a number of essential aspects of elite athletic performance. You don’t really know how your players are responding to training stimuli unless you have daily data and Metrifit provides and easy to use and highly effective means of finding this critical information."
"The success of young athletes using Metrifit was an interesting challenge in the Elite Soccer space… After six months of learning, creating habit with teenagers the project is a huge success…. 90% completion rate has allowed us deal with all the key KPI’s that are needed in their development. In our space with developing athletes…Metrifit is a godsend and is the most important tool in this space."

Niall O’Driscoll

Academy Directory, SJ.B (St. Joseph’s Bray ) Academy

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T16:51:01+00:00

Niall O’Driscoll

Academy Directory, SJ.B (St. Joseph’s Bray ) Academy

"The success of young athletes using Metrifit was an interesting challenge in the Elite Soccer space… After six months of learning, creating habit with teenagers the project is a huge success…. 90% completion rate has allowed us deal with all the key KPI’s that are needed in their development. In our space with developing athletes…Metrifit is a godsend and is the most important tool in this space."
"Metrifit has been instrumental in helping our international Managers, Coaches and Medical teams to identify players who require modifications in training loads or who are struggling with some aspect of their preparation for, or recovery from, training and matches.  One of the big strengths of this technology is that it allows our Managers and Medical teams to monitor players both during international competition and outside of these times."

Dan Horan

Head of Fitness for International Football/Fitness Coach Men's Senior Team
Football Association of Ireland

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T15:11:55+00:00

Dan Horan

Head of Fitness for International Football/Fitness Coach Men's Senior Team
Football Association of Ireland

"Metrifit has been instrumental in helping our international Managers, Coaches and Medical teams to identify players who require modifications in training loads or who are struggling with some aspect of their preparation for, or recovery from, training and matches.  One of the big strengths of this technology is that it allows our Managers and Medical teams to monitor players both during international competition and outside of these times."
"The visualisation of data allows for easy discussion between athletes, performance staff and medical teams and offers the potential to predict and avoid issues which could hamper performance. Over the year the data has proven instrumental in our critical decision making. Metrifit is a excellent monitoring tool however the unsung additional aspect is the fantastic and tireless customer support."

Robert Walsh
Strength Coach
Nederlandse Ski Vereniging (Netherlands Ski/Snowboard Team)
Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-07-25T14:10:08+00:00
Robert Walsh
Strength Coach
Nederlandse Ski Vereniging (Netherlands Ski/Snowboard Team)
"The visualisation of data allows for easy discussion between athletes, performance staff and medical teams and offers the potential to predict and avoid issues which could hamper performance. Over the year the data has proven instrumental in our critical decision making. Metrifit is a excellent monitoring tool however the unsung additional aspect is the fantastic and tireless customer support."
"The cutting edge technology of Metrifit enables Managers, Coaches and Players to use this innovative technology to gain these crucial percentage points over their opponents in a technologically advanced yet easy to use web-based platform. The data collated on a daily basis greatly informs Management Teams while the educational aspect of the system really appeals to modern day athletes who are constantly looking for that extra edge."

Cian O’Neill

Kildare Senior Football Manager

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-14T13:24:03+00:00

Cian O’Neill

Kildare Senior Football Manager

"The cutting edge technology of Metrifit enables Managers, Coaches and Players to use this innovative technology to gain these crucial percentage points over their opponents in a technologically advanced yet easy to use web-based platform. The data collated on a daily basis greatly informs Management Teams while the educational aspect of the system really appeals to modern day athletes who are constantly looking for that extra edge."
"Metrifit is an integral part of the set up within the senior and intermediate inter-county Camogie.  The data collected daily on the individual players is critical to the decision making of the backroom team including, managers, trainers, selectors, physiotherapist and indeed myself. As a nutritionist it allows me to monitor the quality of the player’s diet, energy levels, sleep pattern and overall wellbeing."

Yvonne Treacy

Nutritionist, Wexford Camogie

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-13T16:38:55+00:00

Yvonne Treacy

Nutritionist, Wexford Camogie

"Metrifit is an integral part of the set up within the senior and intermediate inter-county Camogie.  The data collected daily on the individual players is critical to the decision making of the backroom team including, managers, trainers, selectors, physiotherapist and indeed myself. As a nutritionist it allows me to monitor the quality of the player’s diet, energy levels, sleep pattern and overall wellbeing."
"Our coaches through Metrifit basically have an ‘X-ray’ vision into the habits and lifestyles and stressors their athletes have on a day to day basis, especially when they are not together. Thus the professional authentic relationships created through the casual conversations, reflection process and application provided is priceless."

Brian Clarke

Head Strength and Conditioning Co-ordinator,Noblesville High School

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:21:17+00:00

Brian Clarke

Head Strength and Conditioning Co-ordinator,Noblesville High School

"Our coaches through Metrifit basically have an ‘X-ray’ vision into the habits and lifestyles and stressors their athletes have on a day to day basis, especially when they are not together. Thus the professional authentic relationships created through the casual conversations, reflection process and application provided is priceless."
"Metrifit has been used to gain a more in-depth insight into our student-athlete’s progressive athletic development and balance relative to their particular sporting and training activities, academic studies and total load. Metrifit doesn’t just help with optimising our Sports Scholarship students’ athletic performance. It assists us in helping them get the balance right between their sporting activities and academic studies."

Richard Deuchrass

Lincoln University Athletic Performance Manager

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T13:58:58+00:00

Richard Deuchrass

Lincoln University Athletic Performance Manager

"Metrifit has been used to gain a more in-depth insight into our student-athlete’s progressive athletic development and balance relative to their particular sporting and training activities, academic studies and total load. Metrifit doesn’t just help with optimising our Sports Scholarship students’ athletic performance. It assists us in helping them get the balance right between their sporting activities and academic studies."
"The holistic approach of medical, physical, emotional and even tech/tactical; bringing together what we need to monitor and evaluate our University players. “If you can’t measure it – it doesn’t exist.” I know we were the first Canadian University to use the program and I know many more will be asking for it in the future! I highly recommend Metrifit."

Tino Fusco, B.Sc. ChPC

Head Coach, Women's Soccer, Mount Royal University (Canada)

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-12T14:25:37+00:00

Tino Fusco, B.Sc. ChPC

Head Coach, Women's Soccer, Mount Royal University (Canada)

"The holistic approach of medical, physical, emotional and even tech/tactical; bringing together what we need to monitor and evaluate our University players. “If you can’t measure it – it doesn’t exist.” I know we were the first Canadian University to use the program and I know many more will be asking for it in the future! I highly recommend Metrifit."
"We have been using Metrifit for the past season at Cornish Pirates. It has been greatly beneficial for us to have our wellness and load management data on one easy to access system. We have found this invaluable over the past season whereby Coaches, Physios and Strength and conditioning coaches can monitor both the psychological and physiological load of our athletes on a daily basis."

Paul Cremin

Head Physiotherapist, Cornish Pirates Rugby Club

Metrifit Athlete Monitoring System
2017-06-16T15:06:04+00:00

Paul Cremin

Head Physiotherapist, Cornish Pirates Rugby Club

"We have been using Metrifit for the past season at Cornish Pirates. It has been greatly beneficial for us to have our wellness and load management data on one easy to access system. We have found this invaluable over the past season whereby Coaches, Physios and Strength and conditioning coaches can monitor both the psychological and physiological load of our athletes on a daily basis."