Impact of Burnout on Sport Performance

Enjoyment remains the key to sport participation at all times and must be prioritised by parents and coaches.

Do you think that the more you train, the better your performance is?

Optimum amount of training is appropriate for an athlete to get the maximum of their abilities. Work SMART is the new mantra!

We always hear from our coaches, parents and peers about training harder to achieve success in sport. Autobiographies and cinema depiction of achieving the highest level in sport is all depicted through excessive hard work, side-lining the enjoyment level associated to their sport and their recovery. Of course, hard work is important! But stretching oneself to an extent of over training can lead to burnout.

What is this Burnout?

Burnout is a state which results due to prolonged stress leading to physical, mental or emotional exhaustion (1,2). Athletes who experience burnout are typically involved in their sport because they “have to be” rather than “want to be”.

We often see players getting injured or losing their interest and passion over their sport. Their ability to play is hampered before they are even ready to achieve more. The pressure over an athlete to succeed is tremendous. In today’s competitive world, requirements of specialised training sessions, years of practise, repetitive drills and a large amount of money are required by athletes to excel in their sport. This, in turn, continues to add to the burden of their commitment over time. The return on investment over their sport through rewards further enumerates the amount of athlete’s pressure.

High expectations placed on an athlete, pushing him/her too hard too rapidly can result into burnout. Awareness and understanding over the symptoms of burnout can help in preventing it from reaching to a drop out in sport.

Symptoms of Burnout:

Getting easily frustrated, irritable, constantly feeling tired or resistance to go for practises, worrying about failures and expectations from the coaches or parents as well as headaches or minor body aches and a lack of enthusiasm are the symptoms associated with athlete burnout (3).

How to prevent/cure Burnout?

Talking about athlete’s problems, taking proper rest and using relaxation techniques to manage stress can prevent or cure burnout in athletes. Knowing the aspirations of the player and trying to help him/her in achieving those process related short term goals, rather than focusing on the long-term results and pushing them over it, will help in maximising their ability to play. This will facilitate in maintaining their enjoyment levels towards their love for sport. Participation in other areas of athlete’s life will also help in maintaining a balance, further reducing the possibility of burnout. Taking care of these things would aid in bringing up a motivated and a happy athlete.


1.Goodger, K., Gorely, T., Lavallee, D., & Harwood, C. (2007). Burnout in sport: A systematic review. The sport psychologist21(2), 127-151.

2.Eklund, R. C., & Defreese, J. D. (2017). Burnout in sport and performance.

3.Gustafsson, H., DeFreese, J. D., & Madigan, D. J. (2017). Athlete burnout: Review and recommendations. Current opinion in psychology16, 109-113.

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