Soccer burnout is a real thing. Although, there are two different roads that parents take regarding youth sports. Some kids play too much… On the contrary, others are not playing enough. Some parents worry about soccer burnout when their kids only play for a team 16 weeks out of 52… Now it all depends on the individual child, but if a kid really loves a sport they can play way more than 4 months out of the year. However, I do believe kids need a few months off of competitive sports to let the body and brain get rest. There’s not a model to copy… Do what’s best for your family.
Understanding youth soccer
Kids are so special – and part of what makes them special is that they are innocent.
They don’t know how to juggle excessive demands.
Ages 6-10 understand simple things – like how to have fun, how to adore their parents and authority figures, and how to be kind.
When there’s anything else it’s usually because something is off in their world.
Usually when I hear a phrase like a kid has changed or do not enjoy soccer anymore, most often I find they are experiencing a bad soccer situation with a coach or teammates.
For ages 8 – 18, losing the love of a sport could also be from playing too high of a level [at that moment], which leads to little playing time.
Low minutes in a game leads to doubt, low self-esteem, frustration and stress.
Top players [stars] also can experience the feelings of stress. The pressure can be a lot playing at a high level…
Burnout might not be from sports… It could be from staying up too late at night or something going on at school.
“Kids need to be playing at the right level for them, which shouldn’t always be the “highest”. They can always move up later.”
What is soccer burnout?
The medical experts at the Mayo Clinic define burnout as stress – ‘a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion’. –
In soccer this may include a breakdown of a normally healthy child in one of these ways.
The ages you want to be careful are ages 8-11. This is when some of them really don’t understand sports, like other kids.
Some kids love soccer so much that they want to train extra every single week year after year – never experiencing soccer burnout.
Other children may love the sport, but also need months off to do other things they enjoy. Whether it be spending time at home, playing other sports or hanging out with friends.
What does soccer burnout look like?
A few ways burnout may appear include:
- A change in grades
- Lack of energy or focus
- Making excuses where previously none were needed
- Turning to less healthy options
- Unhappy about wins
- The use of drugs or alcohol
- Inability to sleep or keep friendships
- Body ache complaints [mentally they could still want to play, but physically need a break]
While some of these seem extreme, depending on the kid or the relationship they have with you as a parent, the problems may appear in varying levels of silent protest or cry for attention.
7 causes of soccer burnout?
7 possible causes:
- From not playing well
- No days off [you need at least 1 day to rest]
- Pushy or vicariously-motivated parent
- A change in home life
- Busy schedule
- Friends or lack thereof [depending on age of kid]
- A verbally abusive coach
- Change in personal desires coupled with a hypersensitive guilt complex [e.g., my parents invested all this money – how can I tell them I want to quit now?]. Any of these subjects could contribute to burnout.
Any of these subjects could contribute to burnout.
Can kids even get burnt out?
Of course kids can get burn out on any sport!
Think about it – they may feel they have no control over their environment. They may consider soccer to no longer be fun because of no true down time, rest, or may have an overload in schedule.
This is why 1 day of rest out of 7 is needed. Work hard the other 6 days and then chill on the other.
Burnout is not always from the sport…
What are some of the consequences of soccer burnout?
Some consequences that can come from being burnt out include:
- Poor focus
- Poor sleep
- Change in personality
- A decline in grades or relationships
None of these things any parent wants for their child.
Although, these things can be from staying up on their electronics too late, therefore not giving them enough sleep.
What can be done for soccer burnout?
The best news is that no one knows, cares about, or is as invested in your child’s well-being as you are.
The single best thing you can do is to Listen. Shut off your own ‘noise’ factors [e.g., cell phone, computer] and take time to listen to your kid.
Take a weekend for just the two of you. If you are open to some honest self-reflection, take some time to evaluate if you might be a contributing factor to their feeling the pressure they do.
If you don’t see yourself in that role, then asks them questions about what is going on.
“Spend time together as a family outside of sports – go get ice cream and catch up on life.”
Be open to giving them options such as taking time off
Taking one season off may save your child’s passion for the next 10 years of play – including college.
Re-evaluate their goals.
They may have realized that the game is no longer fun, but find out why it’s no longer fun.
Is there something they feel they’re missing out on or is there a problem with someone that you’re not aware of?
Have they found they would rather pursue another field such as science or art?
Finally, be open and supportive
Remind your kid that the time and money invested is never a waste because it’s for them you do these things, not their performance.
While we all want our kids to have a spirit of excellence to the things which they’ve committed, we want them to sustain their activities based on self-drive and motivation, not external pressure.
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