Burnout – Is it happening to you?


Do you feel like you’re losing motivation? You might be approaching burnout. Burnout happens when you have previously been highly committed to a sport or activity and then lose all interest and motivation. Burnout mostly happens to highly-committed, passionate, hard working and successful athletes. Keeping this in mind, being aware of burnout is something all athletes should consider.

Two important parts of burnout are: exhaustion and disillusionment.

As an athlete you may have worked so hard at something, for so long, that the easy things become difficult and maybe the sport loses its excitement. These are times when rest helps us to approach the situation with a new focus and enthusiasm. The real issue of burnout comes from the sense of deep disappointment based on our own expectations. Many athletes get our sense of identity and meaning from our performance. The following items can help you manage the possibility of burnout.


List the things that give real meaning to what sport you play.

  1. Write down what attracted you to your sport in the first place.
    • List the things about it that you find fulfilling now.
    • Include what excites you about it.
    • Think about what you want to achieve within it, and what you think is important to doing the job well.
    • This will give you a long list of things that are good about what you do.
  2. From this list, identify the five things that give the greatest meaning to your sport. &nbsp
  3. Next, write down the things that frustrate you most about your sport.
  4. Now work through the list of things that give you meaning item-by-item.
    • For each item, look at the list of frustrations.  
    • Think these through carefully, and plan in advance how you will handle build-ups of stress in these areas.

Burnout can be prevented. Reviewing your motivations and goals keeps you focused, as well as minimize the potential for burnout.
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Joe Spano

Joe Spano

Sport Psychology Consultant, Adjunct Lecturer
Joe Spano attended Boston University School of Medicine for his Masters degree in Mental Health and Behavioral Medicine with a focus on sport and exercise psychology. He has done consulting work with athletes, teams, and coaches across Northern New England. He has also spoken about the benefits of sport psychology at various conferences to parents, players, and coaches. While completing his PhD in Health Psychology he currently serves as the Sport Psychology Coach with the MAC/ Bollettieri Tennis Academy and Manchester Athletic Club in Manchester, MA.
Joe Spano


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