Athlete Burnout: What is it?

Sabrina Holmes, Staff Writer

Waking up for school at six am, bleary eyed senior Keaton Canaday eats breakfast and quickly gets ready for school. After eight long hours of school, she drives 30-35 minutes to practice at King Aquatic Center, where she will remain for three hours until she arrives home at about nine o’clock. 

Canaday devotes up to 25 hours per week to swimming, and oftentimes misses days of school in order to go to competition.

“Most teachers understand when you communicate with them that you are going to be gone. But it can be really stressful trying to catch up,” Canaday said. 

Canaday’s grueling schedule is not out of the ordinary; in fact, it matches that of many of her peers. With hours of time being dedicated to school, work and sports, it can be extremely hard for student athletes to balance all of their extracurriculars. This can lead to athletes feeling burnout. 

Doctors are not quite certain what causes athletes to feel burnt out, but many agree that burnout is a state of mental and physical exhaustion that comes from over-working and under resting. When athletes feel burnt out, it can lead to a decline of both academic and athletic performance.

“I would say that burnout feels different for everyone, a lot of people lose motivation and start questioning if they should just stop completely or try to push through it,” Canaday said.  

In a survey of 34 athletes, 33 of them have experienced burnout to some degree. Of these 33 athletes, 25 believe there aren’t sufficient resources for athletes experiencing burnout. 

One of the many athletes at Liberty to experience burnout is junior Mirabelle Williams.  She is a competitive cheerleader, and among the many athletes to experience burnout. She attributes burnout to a lack of support in the environment around her.

“Sometimes the team that you are on isn’t very tight-knit, and it can feel very isolating. I really think that being in a supportive environment can be the thing that makes or breaks whether or not you feel burnt out,” Williams said. 

With the amount of different sports that are played on a high-school level, conversations surrounding athlete mental health can be complicated and seem awkward both to athletes and coaches. 

“I think that talking about burnout and athlete mental health in a team setting would be really healthy for athletes, especially for the athletes that don’t have the resources to deal with it themselves,” Canaday said. 

With spring sports starting, and AP tests coming up, many athletes are feeling overwhelming amounts of pressure; however, sports do not have to be a point of stress for athletes. 

“The point of sports and competitions is to have fun. If you don’t enjoy the sport that you play, then that can just be another level of stress,” Williams said.