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Name an instance in sport, academics, or second hand, when you experienced Burnout. Describe how you felt physically and emotionally. What do you think lead to these feelings? How do you think you could have avoided this? As a coach? 

*(Five to Nine sentences in total)* above only

Look up the profile of mood states (POMS) how can this tool be used to determine if an athlete is experiencing burnout.  

*(Two paragraphs)*^

Burnout and Overtraining

Chapter 22


Significance of Burnout and Overtraining

As the pressure to win increases, athletes and coaches spend more time training and feel more stress, which sometimes leads to overtraining and burnout.

Periodized Training Versus Overtraining

Periodized training: The deliberate strategy of exposing athletes to high-volume and high-intensity training loads that are followed by a lower training load (a rest or taper)

Overtraining: A short cycle of training during which athletes expose themselves to excessive training loads that are near maximum capacity

Video 22.1: Dealing With Overtraining

Instructors: When you are in the normal view of the PowerPoint slides, you should right-click on the image and then choose “Open hyperlink” to play the video. In the slide show view, you will simply click on the image to play the video. You must have an Internet connection in order to link to the streaming video.

In this video, sport psychologist and overtraining expert Dr. Göran Kenttä discusses overtraining in athletes and ways to help athletes deal with overtraining.


Figure 22.1

Figure 22.1 The overtraining process.

Kentta, G. (2001). Training practices and overtraining syndrome in Swedish age-group athletes. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 22, 1–6.



Staleness is the physiological state of overtraining, which manifests as deteriorated athletic readiness.

A stale athlete has difficulty maintaining standard training regimens and can no longer achieve previous performance results.


Burnout is a physical, emotional, and social withdrawal from a formerly enjoyable sport activity characterized by

emotional and physical exhaustion,

reduced sense of accomplishments, and

sport devaluation

Burnout occurs as a result of

chronic stress (a perceived or actual imbalance between what is expected of an athlete physically, psychologically, and socially and her response capabilities), and

motivational orientations and changes in the athlete.


Characteristics of Burnout

Exhaustion, both physical and emotional, in the form of lost concern, energy, interest, and trust

Depersonalization and devaluation—acting impersonal and unfeeling—in large part due to mental and physical exhaustion. The individual stops caring about the sport.

Feeling of low personal accomplishment, low self-esteem, failure, and depression—often visible in low job productivity or a decreased performance level


Frequency of Overtraining and Staleness

Sixty-six percent of Atlantic Coast Conference athletes experienced some overtraining on average twice a year.

Seventy-two percent of the athletes reported some staleness during their sport season.

Sixty to sixty-four percent of runners had some staleness once a year.

Thirty percent of subelite runners reported staleness.


Frequency of Overtraining and Staleness (continued)

Of swimmers who reported staleness during their freshman year, 90% became stale in one or more subsequent seasons.

Swedish athletes training at sport high schools had staleness—both individual-sport athletes (48%) and team-sport athletes (30%).

Models of Burnout

Cognitive–affective stress model

Negative-training stress response model

Unidimensional identity development and external control model

Commitment and entrapment theory

Self-determination theory

Integrated model of athlete burnout


Smith’s Cognitive–Affective Burnout Model

The concept of cognitive appraisal reflects the idea that nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

People differ in how they respond to prolonged stress in sport and exercise settings.

Figure 22.2

Figure 22.2 Smith’s cognitive-affective model of athletic burnout.

Adapted by permission from R. Smith, “Toward a Cognitive-Affective Model of Athletic Burnout,” Journal of Sport Psychology 8, no. 1 (1986): 40.


Negative-Training Stress Response Model

This model focuses on physical training (but recognizes the importance of psychological factors).

Physical training stresses the athlete physically and psychologically and can have positive and negative effects.

Positive adaptation is desirable.

Negative adaptation is undesirable (leads to overtraining, staleness, and burnout).

(Silva, 1990)

Silva, J.M. (1990). An analysis of the training stress syndrome in competitive athletics. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 2, 5–20.


Unidimensional Identity Development
and External Control Model

For Coakley (1992) stress is involved in burnout, but it is only a symptom.

The real causes of burnout deal with faulty identity development and external control of young athletes.

Coakley, J. (1992). Burnout among adolescent athletes: A personal failure or social problem? Sociology of Sport Journal, 9, 271–285.


Unidimensional Model Burnout Causes

The structure of sport prevents young athletes from spending enough time with peers outside of sport.

This causes a sole focus on identifying with athletic success, which can be unhealthy, especially when failure or injury occurs.

The social worlds of young athletes are organized in such a way that their control and decision making are inhibited.

Commitment and Entrapment Theory

Burnout is explained within the context of sport commitment.

Burnout occurs when athletes become entrapped in sport and feel they must play even though they lose motivation for participation.


Self-Determination Theory

People have three basic psychological needs:




Those who do not have these basic needs met will be more prone to burnout.


Factors Leading to Burnout

Athletes are starting to train at younger ages.

Training in many sports is virtually year-round.

Overtraining Research Evidence

Overtraining symptoms increase as the volume of physical training increases, and overtraining symptoms decrease when physical training volume decreases.

Other investigators have linked nonsport stress from such things as occupational and educational demands, finances, and living arrangements to the onset of overtraining.


Overtraining Research Evidence (continued)

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) scientific group concluded that team sport athletes respond better to relatively small changes (increases or decreases) in training loads.

It was also concluded that maladaptations to training are caused not only by problems associated with training loads (overtraining) and competition schedules but also by interactions with psychological factors and nonsport stressors.

Burnout Research Evidence

Significant relationships exist between burnout, the amount of stress athletes feel, and their social support and coping.

Other factors related to burnout include a lack of free time, parental pressure, lack of autonomy, social support and money hassles, early sport success, a lack of recovery, passion levels, perfectionism, and peer-related motivational climate.

Team handball athletes with a low burnout profile were 2.21 times more likely to continue to play and 2.86 times more likely to play at a national or professional level.

Burnout Research Evidence: Causes of Burnout in Junior Tennis Players

Physical concerns: Erratic play, injury, feeling tired

Logistical concerns: Travel, time demands

Social or interpersonal concerns: Negative parental influence, negative team atmosphere

Psychological concerns: Inappropriate expectations, feeling a lack of improvement, coach and parental pressure


Individual Differences:
Strains in Junior Athletes

Social–psychological strain

Perfectionistic player substrain

Parental or coach pressure substrain

Physically driven strain

See figure 22.4.

Physical Signs

Sleep disturbance

Appetite loss

Decreased performance

Greater fatigue and tiredness

Psychosocial Signs

Emotional exhaustion, apathy

Increased tension

Greater dejection

Concentration loss

Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining and Burnout

For a complete listing see “Signs and Symptoms of Overtraining and Burnout” (p. 531 of text).


Overtraining and Mood States

Athletes have increased mood disturbance under especially heavy training workloads.

Successful athletes exhibit high levels of vigor and low levels of negative mood states, an optimal combination.

Overtrained athletes show an inverted iceberg profile, with negative states pronounced.

Figure 22.5

Figure 22.5 The iceberg profile of psychological mood states in successful athletes.


Overtraining and Performance

Overtrained and stale athletes are at risk of developing mood disturbances.

Mood disturbances can result in decreased performance levels and dropout.

Therefore, more is not always better.


Measuring Burnout:
The Maslach Burnout Inventory

A reliable instrument for measuring burnout that has been adapted and modified for use in sport and exercise

Maslach Burnout Inventory subscales

Emotional exhaustion


Personal accomplishments


Measuring Burnout:
The Maslach Burnout Inventory (continued)

The Maslach Burnout Inventory has been used with professionals in a variety of potentially stressful occupations: nurses, lawyers, social workers, physicians, psychologists, police officers, counselors, and probation officers.

It has been especially useful in studying teachers, whose work environment typically includes long hours, excessive expenditure of mental and emotional energy, and high expectations from principals and parents.

Measuring Burnout:
The Athlete Burnout Questionnaire

The Athlete Burnout Questionnaire is a sport-specific measure based on the Maslach Burnout Inventory subscales:

Emotional and physical exhaustion

Reduced sense of accomplishments

Sport devaluation

Burnout in Sport Professionals

Certified athletic trainers



Fitness instructors, administrators, and physical education teachers

Factors Related to Burnout
in Trainers and Officials

Certified athletic trainers

Type A personality

Role conflict and ambiguity

Occupational stress and work-family conflict


Job satisfaction

Making bad calls/fear of failure

Role conflict and ambiguity

Factors Related to Burnout
in Coaches

Pressure to win

Administrator or parental interference or indifference

Disciplinary problems

Multiple roles

Extensive travel

Intense personal involvement

Home and work demands

Difficulties handling the high performance demands of elite sport (continued)


Factors Related to Burnout
in Coaches (continued)

Lack of tools to facilitate recovery

Gender differences: Females tend to have higher burnout levels—but not in all cases

Age and experience differences: Younger coaches appear to have higher levels of burnout (partly because older coaches have already burned out).

Coaching style: Coaches who are more caring and people-oriented appear to be more vulnerable to burnout.


Factors Related to Burnout
in Coaches (continued)

Coaches who have better relationships with their athletes are less likely to burnout.

Coaches who feel entrapped are at higher risk for burnout.

Social support: Greater social support is associated with lower burnout.

Lower organizational support, less perceived control, and less active coping styles were related to high burnout in coaches.

Factors Related to Burnout
in Sport and Fitness Professionals

Pressure from coaches or parents

Hard training

Competition over a long period

Treating and Preventing Burnout: Interventions

One Canadian intervention was conducted with athletes with high burnout scores who were taught self-regulation skills. This training resulted in enhanced well-being and lower stress and burnout.

In a 12-week mindfulness attentional training intervention Norwegian junior athletes significantly decreased burnout and increased mindfulness.

Treating and Preventing Burnout: Strategies

Monitor critical states in athletes such as stress levels, training loads, and recovery.

Communicate your feelings to others.

Foster an autonomy-supportive coaching style.

Set short-term goals for competition and practice.

Take relaxation (time-out) breaks.


Reducing Burnout in Young Tennis Players

Advice for other players:

Play for your own reasons.

Balance tennis and other things.

Try to make it fun.

Take time off and relax.



Reducing Burnout in Young Tennis Players (continued)

Advice for parents:

Recognize what is an optimal amount of pushing.

Give support, show empathy, and reduce the importance of outcome.

Involve players in decision making.

Lessen involvement.

Take time off and relax.


Reducing Burnout in Young Tennis Players (continued)

Advice for coaches:

Have two-way communication with players.

Cultivate personal involvement with players.

Use player input.

Understand players’ feelings.


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