Moms! It is time to evaluate. Is your athlete enjoying their sport? Are they setting goals or looking forward to earning that end-of-the-year trophy? If you are having to even stop and think, it may mean your son or daughter is on the brink of sports exhaustion. No worries. We all get tired. Everyone needs a break. And it is treatable.
First, it is paramount to foster open communication between you and your child. Talk about the importance of taking care of themselves, in and out of uniform. Teach them what sports exhaustion looks like, how it feels, and when to act.
Be sure to talk to the coach, too. They are a great resource and your extra pair of eyes. More than likely, they will be the first one to notice any differences in a player. Be sure to ask coach if he/she has a plan to combat exhaustion such as decreased practice times or increased team duties. Time away or a switch in roles may be all that is needed.
What is sports exhaustion:
Overwork or stress from a certain sport. Synonym: “burnout.” Think: Michael Jordan when he retired for the first time from basketball, played a season of minor league baseball with the Birmingham Barons, and then came out of retirement and returned to playing basketball. Some argue he had a typical case of “burnout”, though some refer to it as a “supernova burnout,” an actual psychological term. In this article we use the term “burnout” loosely.
Both males and females
Note: It can happen at anytime and all sports are prone to sports exhaustion.
Beginning signs of sports exhaustion:
Loss of enthusiasm
Frequent complaints of injuries or sickness
Rest. It is the number one way to conquer sports exhaustion. If your child can make it to the end of the season, that would be ideal. It not only teaches patience and endurance, but the importance of keeping a commitment. However, YOU can end the season at anytime if your son or daughter needs rest immediately. Their overall health comes before anything.
Remember sports exhaustion is not quitting. You nor your child have failed. Continue to stay active. Enjoy other activities. Look at it like a vacation. Though you get tired, every summer you want to take another vacation. Treat sports in the same way, always looking forward to the next season.
Be proactive: Know what motivates your child. Make sports fun and enjoyable. Be encouraging. You are ultimately cheering for your child to be successful in life. Take pride in steps of progress you see and acknowledge them. Be dedicated to their sport, too. They learn from example, no matter their age.
Share your own story of sports exhaustion. This generation learns from experience. Many times our children have yet to have their own experiences, so they need something to recall for future situations. Be sure to include how you felt and what you did. Pinpoint and discuss your trigger.
If you don’t have your own story, share a family member’s struggle. Our kids are relational. They want to relate to someone. Knowing someone else has experienced the same thing and that it is perfectly normal, will cause them to be more likely to reach out for help when it is needed.
I remember my first experience with sports exhaustion. I was 14 years old, playing point guard for the high school basketball team. During that time, I hated to run. Oh, and we ran all the time. I ran my fastest mile that year. I worked hard for a 6 minute and 32 second time. The coach had warned us that we would be cut from the team if we could not run a mile under 7 minutes. It was then that basketball turned from a fun sport I absolutely loved, to a running hell that I loathed. Not only did I lose enthusiasm for the sport, but I also became irritable and depressed. Through it all, I finished that season. However, the next season my parents encouraged me to take a break and play for a recreational league. In doing so, I renewed my love for basketball. During that year break, I learned to love running and even was an inaugural member of the first girl’s golf team at our school. In retrospect, my sports exhaustion lead to other activities that I continue to play to this day. AND basketball is still by far my favorite sport!
I want you to know you are doing a great job! Be sure not to fall victim to your own type of sports fatigue. I fight my mom exhaustion with a Dr. Pepper and pack of sunflower seeds. The taste takes me back to my youth and all my fond memories of being in sports. We are here to support our kids and each other.
You know your child the best. They have no better coach than you. Be ever vigilant and know when it is time to end the season.