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Why Are Young Athletes Burning Out of Sports?

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

There are many reasons to sign your kids up for sports teams. They’ll build strong muscles and bones by being active, make friends and learn how to get along with others, and become more confident as they improve on the field. But many kids burn out and quit playing before they graduate from high school. Why? Here are a few reasons and how to prevent burnout.

Reason 1:

Some parents emphasize competition over fun.

Parents who recognize their child has a notable talent for a specific sport (such baseball or tennis), will sometimes encourage their child to sign up for multiple leagues for the same sport.

Reason 2:

Constant practice and competition trigger physical and mental burnout.

Physical burnout increases the risk of injury. This is due, in part, to the fact that many sports require repetitive motion— such as, repeated kicks of a soccer ball with one leg, the constant swinging of a bat in baseball, or the motion required to serve in tennis.

Reason 3:

Some kids and parents attach sports to scholarships and fame.

When unchecked, a child’s or parent’s (or coach’s) desire for great results, can lead to significant pressure and stress for a young person. The fun of sports can quickly be erased and with it a child’s natural talent can erode.

So, how can parents and their kids prevent burnout?

Remember… kids are kids.

Ask any eight-year-old what his favorite color or cartoon character is, and he won’t hesitate to answer. But if you ask him again a week later, his answer may be completely different. So why should he choose which sport to do at such a young age? In reality, by the time that boy reaches high school, the sport he loved as an eight-year-old has become a chore. Weekend fun with friends is passed over for tournaments played out of state. Holiday breaks are spent refining techniques with specialized coaches. Athletes who burn out like this may quit playing all sports.

Introduce variety.

One of the most notable ways to prevent burnout is to encourage kids to participate in multiple sports. Sports yield tremendous benefits to children in helping them improve their motor skills and learn how to be a part of a team. Athletes that have off seasons or play multiple sports throughout the year, will strengthen multiple muscle groups and let other muscles recuperate.

​Aside from reducing the risk of overuse injuries and mental burnout, these multi-sport players gain more athleticism. The skills gained in one sport can enhance those for another. And best of all, each sport feels fresher on the field when not played every week, and the athlete can enjoy the sport for what it is — a game.

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