Here’s How You Prevent Soccer Burnout
May 30, 2022
Burnout is real, and it happens to soccer players as well. High volume, high-intensity schedules can rob a player of their motivation, passion, and joy. More concerningly, it can lead to injury and illness. This post will look at burnout in soccer, and how players can address it if it affects them.
Rest & Recover
A major cause of burnout is inadequate rest and recovery. That is becoming more commonplace now that players - even the youngest ones - play in high-frequency, high-intensity leagues. Constantly pushing your body without enough rest and recovery leads to overexertion. Overexertion can lead to a constant state of fatigue, increase your risk of soccer injuries, and negatively affect your mood and morale. All of these conditions can lead to burnout. So the takeaway here is clear - ensure that you (or your players) get sufficient rest and have a proactive recovery protocol.
Rest & Recovery Tips to Prevent Soccer Injuries
- Hydrate and rehydrate
- Eat balanced, nutritious meals before and after games (more on this later)
- Get AT LEAST 7-9 hours of sleep per day
- Take a day off once per week (from practice and games)
- Take ice baths (for older players)
- Use percussion massage guns (for older players)
Some of these strategies may not suit a player. Working with a coach and physician can help you find the right balance.
Switch Up Your Training
Monotony is a good and bad thing in soccer training. Adopting a consistent training regimen allows players to get their reps in, build results over time, and track their progression. Of course, doing the same training routine for months and years is tedious, but it can lead to imbalances or overexertion. So it’s essential to switch up your training protocol over time.
That doesn’t mean you can skip practicing the fundamentals; you should adopt new ways to practice the fundamentals. For example, you can isolate a skill such as a goalkeeper distribution or shot-blocking and learn new drills to practice it. Or, if you want to build your leg strength, you can add neuromuscular drills or nordic drills to a typical weight training session.
The key is to vary your training. And the more you change your activity, you will escape boredom and train your body to develop in a more balanced way.
Switch Up Your Position (Where Possible)
We’ve addressed the issue of early specialization before and have presented both arguments to support and reject it. When it comes to younger players and protecting them from burnout, it’s best to avoid too much specialization of a position.
Young players who specialize tend to face more pressure from coaches and parents to excel at that position. Of course, that could encourage kids to push themselves too hard and neglect their health and safety. Burnout and soccer injuries usually aren’t too far behind when this happens.
We recommend that parents allow younger players to try different positions. And not just positions - other sports too. It will enable kids to have more fun and not feel so pressured. As a bonus, cross-training in different sports allows kids to learn athletic skills they can transfer to soccer without feeling like they’re training at all.
Talk to a Professional
For younger soccer players, it may be difficult to articulate how they feel. They may not know how to say that they’re overwhelmed - kids usually show it through irritability and avoidance (not wanting to play). These could be red flags for parents.
Although some might be reluctant to speak up, older youth, young adults, and mature players are much better at expressing their mental states. However, speaking up to a professional about burnout is essential because it’s the first step to reversing it.
With that said, they need to recognize signs of burnout and name them if they’re present. Symptoms of burnout usually include:
- Lack of motivation or interest
- Low-stress tolerance
- Isolation or withdrawal from activities (such as soccer games and practices)
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions (both on and off the pitch)
- Poor mood
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Feeling run down, sick, or suffering persistent soccer injury
If a player is experiencing one or more of these signs in an ongoing fashion, they may be dealing with burnout. It’s essential to take a look at your schedule. An overwhelming schedule full of games and practices without rest combined with these symptoms is a red flag that you’re burned out.
Speaking to a professional about these symptoms is helpful because they can give you strategies to over the negative feelings of burnout. Of course, ensuring you get enough rest and recovery is the best thing you can do.
Preventing Burnout from Soccer Injuries & Heavy Schedules
Any serious soccer player has a goal (excuse the pun) to dominate on the pitch and prove themselves. Of course, pushing oneself too hard without sufficient self-care can turn that desire for excellence into a recipe for burnout.
So do your utmost to take time to rest, switch up your training routine, and don’t forget to have some breaks for fun too. If you have existing soccer injuries, let them heal fully before jumping back on the pitch.
And if you’re the parent of a younger player, don’t put too much pressure on them! Ultimately, they should be having fun.
Are you looking for more tips on soccer psychology and player health? Check out our Storelli blog for ideas and insights!