Burnout might seem like a strange term to associate with sports. We usually think burnout is a problem adults face in their jobs. It can be an issue for kids too, and sports are often involved. It is estimated that about 70% of kids quit organized sports by age 13, and burnout in young athletes is thought to be one of the most common factors.
Unfortunately children probably won’t openly admit to their parents or coaches that there is a problem. Adults can recognize some of the warning signs of youth sports burnout and talk to them about it.
Burnout can manifest itself through changes in sports performance, emotion, attitude, and health.
In terms of on-the-field performance, young athletes might perform consistently worse than normal or might become more inconsistent. They might struggle with routine tasks of the sport, such as performing a play or guarding another player. They might appear to have no motivation to practice or display little enjoyment while playing. They might even argue with teammates and coaches.
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Off the field, they might seem unusually depressed, tired, angry or irritable. They might not want to eat, or they might have difficulty sleeping. They also might withdraw and not talk to family or friends.
Lastly, burnout in young athletes can take the form of health issues. Kids might frequently complain of vague pain or seem to take longer to recover from minor injuries. They might even get sick more often than normal.
Each young athlete experiencing burnout might show different signs. It is important to recognize that a problem could exist. Try to open the lines of communication before kids quit playing altogether.