BY ORATILE OTSETSWE
Enduring in high intensity sports and increased competitive pressure make some athletes drop out of sports with shattered hopes and dreams due to burnout.
At least one scientist says, athlete burnout is a condition associated with excessive training without adequate rest leading to a series of psychological (affecting the mind), physiologic (affecting how the body functions), and hormonal changes resulting in decreased sports performance.
This was revealed by sports and exercise scientist George Mokone in an interview with the Sunday Standard Sports.
Mokone explained that the chances of vulnerability to athlete burnout rise according to the more physically-demanding the sport is. He said weight associated sports like boxing and rowing are more likely to induce athlete burnout. He added that frequently there is pressure to make the weight and to perform well so athletes use personal training methods to stay in particular weight category to the detriment of their physical and mental health.
He noted that, “the main consequence of athlete burnout condition is devaluation of sports performance. Burnout also causes joint pains, personality changes, heart rate at rest beats faster, fatigue, lack of enthusiasm about practice or competition, and failure to complete routine physical exercises are indications of burnout in an athlete.”
Mokone said athlete burnout is mainly caused by excessive training but it is connected with factors that include; specializing in a single sport at a very young age and competing at many events annually. He said not playing several sports leads to reduced rest period over a long time therefore burnout may apply.
He advised that to avoid burnout in junior sportpersons, young athletes should undergo appropriate training because they are physically underdeveloped. He said coaches should provide two days in the week since training breaks are critical in allowing the body to recover and adjust to the physical stress. He concluded that three months breaks are recommended in a year period and the athlete can do other forms of training such as gym, swim if their main sport is basketball or soccer for instance.
“The coach has to involve doctors and physiotherapists to perform physical fitness tests, medical tests, and psychological tests. If the coaches have the particular record of the athlete’s performance, behavior, attitude during training and competition they should be able to pick when performance dips or attitude changes” Mokone concluded.