Don’t Get Burned
Burnout. It happens to everyone, everywhere, everyday. Athletes -young, old, professional, amateur, male and female- all experience burnout in different forms and degrees. Burnout is defined as the physical, emotional, and psychological reaction to intense pressure to fulfill obligations, whether they be sports or otherwise. Simply put, people get tired and worn out because they often take on the responsibility of doing too much. Burnout is most common among professional and Olympic athletes that train hard and work hard for long periods of time. However, others can also experience burnout in athletics. Burnout leads to reduced interest in the sport, quality of performance, and then withdrawal.
Burnout is often associated with overtraining, overreaching, and staleness. Overtraining is the point where training is no longer beneficial but harmful. Overreaching is similar to overtraining however the length of time makes the difference. Overreaching for long periods of time leads to overtraining. Staleness is the effect of reaching a performance plateau. Together with overtraining, staleness eventually leads to athlete burnout. In sports psychology, several models exist to help explain, prevent, and treat burnout in athletes.
Stress models of burnout point to stress as the key factor in burnout. Silva’s training stress model is based on the notion that some training stress is necessary to improve.. These improvements are based on positive adaptation to training stress or negative adaptation to training stress. Smith’s Cognitive-Affective model of burnout has for stages that lead to burnout. Investment model of burnout insists that if an athlete participates in sports based on enjoyment, burnout is less likely to occur. On the other hand, if an athlete is trapped into participation this will lead to burnout. Empowerment model of burnout suggests that stress is not the cause but merely a symptom of burnout. This theory in particular deals mainly with youths in sports.
Burnout normally occurs slowly, over a long period of time. It may express itself physically or mentally. Physical symptoms may include feelings of intense fatigue, changes in heart rate, weight, blood pressure, vulnerability to viral infection, and then immune breakdown. Mental burnout may manifest itself with feelings of lack of control over commitments, belief that you are accomplishing less, tendency to think negatively, loss of a sense of purpose and increasing detachment to situations that cause stress. In some cases, burnout can...