At some point during the season, burnout will most likely become an issue for your team. It seems to make sense to talk about it now, rather than later when it is too late to head it off before it pops up.
To start, it’s important we understand exactly what burnout is. It is, according to Psychology Today, “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”
The last thing you want your players feeling is overwhelmed, emotionally drained, or unable to meet demands. So when you see your players struggling with basic tasks, unable to perform simple skills, or acting disinterested, you might want to take steps to help them.
As a review, let’s look at the signs.
- Players feel tired or drained
- Loss of motivation
- Have an increasing cynical and negative attitude
- Have trouble finding satisfaction
- Sense of failure or self-doubt
- Frequent headaches or muscle pain
- Change in appetite or sleep habits.
Addressing symptoms like loss of motivation, a cynical and negative attitude, lack of satisfaction and self-doubt, have to be handled on an individual basis. Players often suffer from a lack of confidence and sometimes they have to be reminded that they are not failures.
There’s no way to guarantee your players will never get burned out, but variety in training and weekly schedules can help keep your players fresh and engaged. Routines are good, ruts are bad. Coaches have to be able to tell the difference.
Seasons can be long, and even if they are not, they can feel long. Keeping things fresh and maintaining a positive atmosphere is important for everyone’s state of mind. One way to accomplish that is to mix things up in training, add a new or creative element to it, or even have a “Guest Trainer Series.”
An article on Psychology Compass argues that “effective goal-setting underlies the fundamental aspect of your motivation and keeps stressful situations at bay. If you don’t set goals in positive, attainable ways, it will take you into a cycle of stress and negative emotions, hindering your decision-making, breeding a lack of creativity, and eventually making you feel mentally exhausted and burnt out.
The author offers a plan to recover from burnout, starting with three steps involving goals.
- Reorganize your goal hierarchy to see why you do what you do
- Reframe the way you approach (vs avoid) your goals
- Rebalance the types of goals to have more “want-tos,” less “have-tos.”