Preventing Burnout, Overuse In Youth Athletes

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Burnout among student-athletes is a growing concern for coaches and parents. While the trend toward specializing in a single sport may on its face seem like the best way to get in the “reps” for success, the risk to young athletes through overuse and/or burnout is greater than ever. Following the example of someone like Patrick Mahomes, for example, who has credited playing multiple sports, including baseball, in helping his success in the NFL, is a path that professionals hope to point to as they advise youth participation.

With that in mind, trainers at Athetico Physical Therapy have stressed that overuse and burnout or or to transition from one sport to the next with little or no break in between are a factor in young athletes not achieving their goals.

Athletico Physical Therapy

“When young athletes start to focus on one sport at an early age, or overtrain and play without taking proper rest and recovery days, they are putting themselves at risk for increased injury and burnout,” said Jason Bannack, Athletico’s Vice President of Outreach Services. “Athletico’s athletic trainers work closely with athletes, parents and coaches to identify the warning signs and provide best practices to set athletes up for success.”

With the occasion of National Athletic Training Month in March, and following the advice of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), Atletico’s trainers, in recommending they delay specializing in a single sport for as long as possible and encouraging them to participate in a variety of sports and activities throughout the year, has provided a few tips to help youth athletes, parents and coaches in safer athlete development:

  • Unsplash/Alyssa Ledesma

    Know the signs of burnout: Athletes can burn out physically and mentally. Common signs of burnout include decreased performance, constant aches and pains, poor sleep or appetite, sluggishness, poor grades and fading passion for sports.

  • Seek out active-recovery activities: NATA recommends young athletes should have a minimum of two days off per week from organized training and competition. For athletes who are determined to stay active on their off days, Athletico athletic trainers suggest active-recovery activities, such as swimming, that provide a workout without stressing the body.
  • Let student athletes be kids: Be mindful of student athletes becoming overscheduled. Instead, encourage young athletes to take time off or simply play with their friends. Staying active outside of organized sports also has tremendous physical and emotional benefits.

Athletico has also shared a list of best practices which reiterate the delay in specialization and provide some age-based and rest time guidelines.

National Athletic Training Month is coordinated in conjunction with NATA. Athletico has been an active supporter of the Association since 1991.

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Jerry Milani

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 25 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for Wizard World, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at jerry (at) jerrymilani (dot) com.