Article written by Annie Skidmore- BSc Sport & Exercise Science Student
High training demands coupled with intense competitions can cause burnout in the youth athlete. If the athlete is in a constant state of fatigue from overtraining their body will not be able to function normally or perform to their best ability. It is therefore vital that training demands, and rate of perceived exertion are monitored to prevent overtraining and burnout specifically in youth athletes.
WHAT IS BURNOUT?
Burnout is when the athlete is both physically and mentally fatigued. They have pushed themselves beyond their limits meaning they are unable to perform at their best. It has been shown that the fear of failure in youth athlete is related to burnout . Therefore, athletes need to accept that they will have periods of highs and lows when performing but focusing on failure will only exaggerate their chances of fatigue and underperformance.
Overuse is one of the most common cause of injury in teenage athletes and this overtraining can be increased by pressure from parents to compete and succeed . Participating in sports all year round, for more than one club and for school teams too can put additional stress on the youth athlete’s body. This overtraining can lead to burnout negatively affecting youth athlete’s athletic performance.
HOW TO RECOGNISE BURNOUT
Burnout has a higher incidence rate of between 20-30% with a higher risk in individual sport athletes, females and those competing at high levels. The most common symptoms are like those seen in adults and include :
8 WAYS TO RECOVER FROM & PREVENT OVERTRAINING
A major player in ensuring athletes don't overtrain, is to have their nutritional strategy on-point. Learning about the right types of foods and the best time to eat them can dramatically affect their recovery and energy levels.
 Gustafsson H, Sagar SS, Stenling A. Fear of failure, psychological stress, and burnout among adolescent athletes competing in high level sport. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. 2017 Dec;27(12):2091-102.
 Brenner JS. Overuse injuries, overtraining, and burnout in child and adolescent athletes. Pediatrics. 2007 Jun 1;119(6):1242-5.
 Winsley R, Matos N. Overtraining and elite young athletes. The elite young athlete. 2011;56:97-105.
 DiFiori JP, Benjamin HJ, Brenner JS, Gregory A, Jayanthi N, Landry GL, Luke A. Overuse injuries and burnout in youth sports: a position statement from the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine. British journal of sports medicine. 2014 Feb 1;48(4):287-8.
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Just as your youth athlete will need to fuel well to stay healthy, the same goes for parents too. Ensuring you eat a healthy and balanced diet will help to keep your energy levels high, so you’re better equipped to handle the stress and challenges that life throws at you.