When kids start sports, they do it because of the fun which comes with it.
When this fun disappears for a longer period, it becomes this unjoyful pressure and heavy daily duty. Just the thought of going to practice sucks out all the energy. It doesn´t mean the athlete is burned out, but we don´t even want to get to this point.
There may be a day or two when the mood to go to practice is not the greatest. That´s not what I´m talking about in this blog post. I mean, when this drowning situation is happening day in and day out over weeks or months. When the athlete just finished practice and already can not get the head around coming back the day after.
We don´t even want to get to this point, but when it´s happening, it comes to the moment when it´s time to take a break. Hopefully, stepping back will free up some capacity for finding the problem. Let´s look at a few aspects which could cause this low mental and physical state.
The group dynamic is devastating.
Kids can be very mean to each other, and as a group, this can create extra cruel levels. Not everyone in the group has to be the best friend, but respecting each other should be a rule.
The coach and the athlete may not match.
There is an athlete-coach relationship, and how some people connect better than others, some coaches connect better with some athletes, and some athletes connect better with a coach than others. Still, the coach's job is to coach every one of their athletes. But to do that, also the athlete needs to be coachable. If it comes to problems on either end, it´s time to sit together and talk it out.
When the body is physically exhausted, it is almost impossible to be mentally excited. Training is tiering; I almost would say that's normal. I covered this in “What Is Training Doing.” Overtraining, on the other hand, is too much load over a longer period of time. But not just too much training can cause overtraining also other components of life affect the energy levels, and a load of everything in combination may cause exhaustion. When recovery or sleep falls short, after-school activities rise, screen time adds up, the daily menu shows poor nutrition or aspects like the ones above show up, then athletes or life creates a load in addition to the training. So, when it comes to overtraining, it is necessary to also look at what´s all happening besides the hours of practice.
Lost of Passion for the Sport.
Who can be passionate about something which shows a spiral into burnout? Well, it´s still possible having the will to fight through that. Every athlete had at least one moment when it became very hard. When there is still a passion for doing this sport, I cross my fingers for every athlete to come out the other side. On the other hand, when passion is not only on a low burner for a while - but totally out of any fire - it´s time to get out of this sport.
There may even be multiple layers, which might not be possible to be uncovered by the athlete itself. That´s why it is not just acceptable but necessary that the athlete doesn´t have to go through that alone. Every athlete (like every person) deserves support; but it´s also up to the athletes to what level to take it.
Do you have a Dream? Keep going towards it :)
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