What is Burnout?

Ever heard an athlete say that they have just “lost love for the sport”, or maybe they just “don't enjoy training anymore”  Maybe, the issue is burnout. 

What is Burnout?

Burnout or Overtraining Syndrome can be defined as; “athletes fail to endure and adapt to training, so normal performance declines and the individual encounters increased difficulty fully recovering from a workout” (McArdle, Katch & Katch, 2001) 

Basically, when athletes struggle to meet the expectations of training, causing performance to deteriorate, it may not always be a physical injury! In fact, burnout is a common problem amongst sportspeople, with 10-20% of all athletes experiencing it. Burnout can manifest in many ways, showing symptoms such as reduced performance despite continued or increased training, fatigue, difficulty recovering from training, Irritability, cynicism and lack of enthusiasm.

Burnout might have many or one mechanism, ranging from simply training too much, to a stressful social or home life. No two athlete's are the same! 

How can I prevent my players from experiencing it? 

Burnout is difficult to prevent, as different players will experience training in different ways! Sometimes, a training schedule that is perfectly optimal for one player, will be too much for another and eventually cause them to exhibit the symptoms of burnout. However there are ways to help limit its prevalence! 

Some of these are keeping training fun and interesting, ensuring players take planned rest and breaks throughout the week and throughout the season, and keeping track of loading and RPE. 

Is it treatable?

Burnout isn’t necessarily a sporting death sentence! If a player is feeling burnt out and doesn't know who to turn to this can leave them feeling resentful and frustrated at the sport itself. However, if you suspect an athlete is overtraining, the best thing for it is rest, rest, rest!