4 Keys to Avoiding Burnout in Rocket Athletes
Youth sports participation in the United States has continued to grow year after year. With the increase in demand for youth sports outlets for children of all ages, we have seen the development of countless sports leagues and teams to facilitate all of the young athletes and parents looking for a place to get involved.
With all of the money to be made, it’s no wonder that competition has also begun to increase in the ever-expanding world of youth sports.
As we explained in our Introduction to Burnout article, the rise in competition, caused by things like high-level travel teams selection processes and chasing college scholarships, has created strain for young athletes.
One result of this stress on young athletes is burnout. Burnout can be described as a condition that develops from chronic stress, either mental or physical, caused by overtraining or over-exerting themselves. This can lead to injuries, tremendous mental stress, and in some cases, the young athlete walking away from sports altogether.
There are common factors that lead to athletes burning out:
- Early sports specialization – focusing on one sport from a young age
- Playing one sport, but competing on multiple teams during a season
- Overlapping seasons without intervals of rest
- Year-round participation without an “off season”
- “Type A” personality including ambitious, determined, driven, intense
- Low self-esteem and high anxiety levels
- Parental or coaching pressure to train and compete at a higher level
However, because there is obvious differences to how certain people will react to stressful situations, we decided to look at each athlete type individually to help lay out a road-map of sorts for parents, coaches, and young athletes to avoid burning out.
The key to reducing the risk or effects of burnout is minimizing the stress felt by the young athlete, so we’ve focused on ways to reduce stress in ways that will benefit specific athletes based on their athlete type characteristics.
Rockets: The Driven Athlete Type
When you talk about Rockets, one of their most dominant traits is their desire for social interaction. Rockets enjoy social situations, so it is important to try and let them socialize.
If they primarily play an individual sport like golf, it will benefit the Rocket greatly if they can mix in some sort of socially-based activity in their free time, whether that be another sport where the Rocket can be part of a team, or some sort of club or extra-curricular activity in which they can socialize with others who have similar interests.
This outlet for social interaction is really important for Rockets for two reasons: it will give the Rocket an escape from the grind of their sports season, helping get their mind off of sports, and will also let them spread their wings in a situation where they can be social and relax with friends.
Rockets Push Hard for their Goals
Pushing towards goals is something discussed a lot in terms of inducing stress in young athletes. For Rockets, this is no different. Some athlete types have problems with setting goals that are far too lofty for themselves, with the Rocket, it’s a bit different.
Rockets have a generally positive trait where they focus on executing on goals or simply “getting things done”. However, there are cases where this positive trait can manifest itself as a stress-inducing negative. If they have lofty goals they have set for themselves, continuously pushing themselves to excel, this could contribute to them feeling stressed out.
As such, they may feel they are not improving at the rate they expected, which will very likely cause them to feel anxious about their progress in their sport.
The biggest point here is avoiding damaging the Rocket’s optimistic demeanor. They do a great job remaining positive and having a reassuring outlook on things, but continuous slights could cause a serious hit to their confidence, which is a large part of a Rocket’s core identity.
All of these components of their mental mindset are connected, and therefore, need to be considered when talking about a Rocket potentially burning out. Not only can chasing their goals cause them stress, it can damage their positive demeanor. And if they follow another Rocket tendency, rigidly sticking to plans, they can get into even more trouble mentally.
It is important to remind Rocket athletes to be flexible when pushing to achieve their goals, because sometimes things don’t happen the way they expect them to, or at the rate they wish they would. Remind them of this, and have some sort of stress relieving activity for them they can resort to when their sport is starting to cause them to question themselves.
For some Rockets, this leisure activity could be hanging out with friends or family, playing video games, or other generally relaxing hobbies like reading or meditation that won’t add any additional stress. Adding an hour or so every night, where the Rocket can unwind and decompress.
While the intrinsic drive to push themselves is seen as a good trait that can go bad when talking about Rockets burning out of youth sports, they have a negative trait that can be even worse in this regard.
A Rocket’s Decision Making
A lot of Rockets will make decisions too quickly from time to time, usually not taking the proper amount of time to evaluate all of the repercussions their decisions could have moving forward.
Rockets will sometimes rush into decisions before considering the implications those decisions could have on their future. If they are making decisions about sports training or practices, make sure they realize what they are getting themselves into.
You have to be sure they aren’t pushing themselves too hard, because they won’t typically consider that possibility when deciding how they want to practice or train.
They may be more inclined to drop a sport due to burnout than others, because they make such quick, and sometimes rash, decisions. It’s important to understand how a Rocket is feeling by having frequent open conversations with them so you can help them if they are facing any tough decisions, or are considering leaving their sport altogether.
To keep a Rocket on their toes mentally, in order to keep things new and exciting for them, let Rockets do activities in their sport that help them stretch their limits in ways they aren’t accustomed to. That will keep them interested and motivated.
Try to encourage activities that push a Rocket to think outside of the box. This will keep things interesting for them, and will stimulate their desire to push to improve themselves.
A lot of the stress caused by burnout can be reduced when it comes to Rocket athletes by doing one simple thing: talking to them.
Rockets are good at facing reality, so it’s good to have an open conversation with them every once and awhile to make sure they are still enjoying playing sports. They will respond to you being open with them by reciprocating that and telling you the truth about how they truly feel.
You can use these conversations to gauge how burnt-out the Rocket may be feeling, and work with them to come up with a plan they can follow in order to get the most out of their sport and what they can do in their downtime to unwind and really enjoy themselves on and off the playing field.
Here are the 4 key points to take away when trying to reduce the risk of burnout in Rocket athletes:
- Make sure Rockets have ample time to socialize with others who share similar interests, this will help them make friends and relieve their stress.
- If they have set goals for themselves, keep an eye on the Rocket to make sure they aren’t pushing themselves too hard.
- Keep the Rockets confidence high so their positive demeanor and outlook doesn’t take a hit if they are struggling.
- Sit down with the Rocket and ensure they aren’t making rash decisions without thinking about the repercussions of the bigger choices they make.
These are all strategies that can be employed in order to reduce the stress that can lead to burnout in Rocket athletes.
There is always more to learn about one’s mental-game. We recommend athletes review their own Athlete Profile report for detailed, customized information on their athletic mindset and tips and suggestions for improvement, including avoidance of burnout.
For parents, we recommend the Athlete Profile for Parents report that additionally provides detailed guidance on how to most effectively parent and develop the athlete, including general guidance on how to avoid burnout. A full system for teams and coaches is also available.