Burntout? Overtrained? Or loosing interest?
Problem: How do I know if my athlete is really experiencing burnout? If so, how do I help them? Or do I?
" Hey, my kid is pretty good at this."
" What if this can get her/him a scholarship to college?"
" He/she can even take the team to state!"
- Thoughts of a loving, eager parent.
Let the pressuring commence...
Raise your hand if you've had this same thought pattern. OK...you can ALL put your hands down.
It's all out of love, we know! It's about wanting the best for your athlete and maybe setting them up to experience better than you did.
What if I told you we were in an epidemic and half of the young athletes will succumb to this epidemic.
52 million kids under the age of 15 play sports. 8 million of those kids go on to play on highschool teams. ½ million will go on to be college athletes. About 2% of those athletes will get an athletic scholarship and .01% will become a pro.
To become an expert at anything, they say it requires 10,000 hours. So, basically, at 1000 hours a year, it will take 10 years to become an expert. This means, if a parent sees these numbers, they are going to want to start specializing their athletes at the age of 7 just to get them as close to an expert level as they can before 17. The prime college scouting years. Reaching 700 hours a year will create DOUBLE the risk of overuse, burnout and other symptoms like depression and injury that come with it.
Burnout is a real thing. Injury due to overuse and burnout is a real thing.
Lost desire, attraction to new extracurriculars, and laziness are all also real things.
True Signs of burnout- Real burnout is a reaction to chronic stress over a long period of time.
That chronic stress is going to create a lot of challenges.
-changes in diet or eating patterns
Feelings of burnout can come from pressure from coaches, parents and peers.
Coaches may be urging the athlete to work more on their skills because they see the potential in them, and the athlete may not know how to harness this pressure. As mentioned above, It may also come from specializing in one sport too early on. 75% will drop out of sports around the age of 15 or 16 for this very reason.
Have you opened the lines of communication with your athlete?
An obvious, yet extremely challenging task. Many children won't open up unless they are clearly and calmly asked. If you're not asking, they're not telling. Even when they're telling it's difficult to know the true feelings behind words.
"But, why?! I am their Mom/Dad!"
Yes, that's exactly it. The pressure to do and say what they THINK you want to hear and see is the problem. It's a pressure that is felt with or without super involved parenting and can leave them not wanting to do or say anything.
Every athlete is different and you may find that their own internal drive is on fire and no pushing is necessary. On the other hand, another athlete may require more attention and push to allow them to want it on their own.
This is a boundary that our RISE mentors have been able to overcome, with developing the Olympian/ athlete relationship through mentoring is something that you, as a parent can't offer your athletes. This is not to offend, but simply the truth. The safe space between our mentors and athletes allows for individualized problem solving which, with time, results in an athlete with a clearer, more empowered vision of what they want to achieve and an action plan to get there.
The key is to allow them to want it for themselves. To discover the internal reward of doing something challenging and uncomfortable. Like waking up for a 5 am practice before school, only to return after school and do it again. To discover the feeling of being proud of oneself. To discover that being uncomfortable is actually what makes them feel the best and most satisfied. To feel empowered.
THIS IS THE GOAL. Easier said than done, always.
If it's not burnout, then what is it?
Today we are faced with more distractions than ever before. More information than we could ever hope to absorb and comprehend in one lifetime. Parents, I challenge you to put yourselves in your young athletes shoes. Although it is a gift to have access to technology and the resources that we do, the amount of information and possibility your athlete is trying to process on a daily basis is overwhelming. On one note, this can lead to a curious mind creating a desire to try and experiment with new things before "specializing."
This is very normal in the development and maturation process. It’s important to allow a curious mind explore all possibilities before deciding what is truly their favorite activity.
On another note, this can also lead to false assumptions about the glamour
of a new interest and the people they see doing it. Leading to constant questioning and insecurity of their current situation and personal abilities. Rather than motivate, it can stop them dead in their tracks.
"Why aren't they wanting to go to practice?"
Generally, a good push here is a good thing.
We all need a little push when motivation is lacking. However, do they get emotional with a push? If so, it's important to understand why. Do they fear the pressure from a coach and teammates? Do they fear failing? Lack of believing in their abilities to get better, can result in the thought of "what's the point" around in their head. There are A LOT possibilities here.
If they continue not to open up to you, it's crucial to get them to open up to someone. Situations experienced as a young athlete, a young person in general, can stay with them for a lifetime, impacting everything they do.
Our mission is to be that source for your athlete. It comes down to being about so much more than sport but sport is the foundation we build off of. A common ground where experiences are exchanged and proper thought patterns and self regulation system are cultivated.
As a parent, you have a lot on your plate. If you have an athlete who was once passionate, talented, and having fun in their sport and is suddenly pulling back, it is easy to give in and not fight the battle of figuring out why, especially when they won't tell you 100%. You want to see them happy. Don't give up the fight without trying to exhaust all available resources
“As parents, we all do our best and with some trial and error, get our kids to be happy as much as possible. This approach provides them with an incredible opportunity to learn and grow in ways that parents simply can’t do on their own.”
- from a parent of a RISE Athlete
We encourage you to Set up a FREE call with us to discuss what we have to offer your athletes.