Sunday, 25 November 2012

Youth Player Burnout

There are two area's that are visibly challenging in youth soccer but, not talked about very much. For the next two weeks I will be taking a  look at what burnout looks like in grass roots soccer for players and parents.

From an ideal article that gives you a good overview of the back ground that causes athlete burnout.

There are three main theories about how athletes become burned out. One possible explanation has to do with excessive stress and pressure (1). Constant pressure to win, train and perform could lead to mental and physical exhaustion and stress, leading to burnout. A second possible cause is the feeling of entrapment (1). The athlete who experiences feelings of entrapment has invested a lot of time and energy into the sport but does not experience any rewards from participation or enjoyment in the sport. The costs begin to outweigh the benefits, and they will eventually burnout and drop out. A final theory to explain burnout involves the issue of empowerment (1). Sociologist Jay Coakley proposed the idea that the structure of organized, competitive youth sports becomes controlling. It controls the identity of participants and controls their lives, leaving them feeling disempowered. Coakley theorizes that a desire for personal control over one’s life is a possible cause of burnout in youth sports.

Looking back I can honestly say... I got very lucky my daughter never quit soccer. I'm not saying I'm out of the woods but, what I'm starting to see is her enjoying playing soccer again at age 15. I believe its easy in this North American soccer environment for a child soccer player to feel burnout. The enthusiasm on scoring and winning games at an early stage takes away from players having fun and making mistakes that is critical for  growth. Its easy to to get wrapped up in the mediate success of winning games, yearning for our egos to be polished and forgo what players really need to develop.

I push my daughter to focus, train harder and more often, she did and one day she told me she quit. Over a two year span 11 and 12yrs she quit several times and always came back. Most of the time she quit because I challenge her to improve on her soccer skills and she felt like she was not getting it. other times she would quit just to get a rouse out of me and I can honestly say... at first it shook me up but, when I accepted her not playing soccer any more she stopped saying "I quit".

What I've realized is there is a happy medium to avoiding youth soccer burnout and that is "understand your child's personality and don't focus so much on winning than having fun".

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