5 Keys to Avoiding Burnout in Ice Athlete Types
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.
Ice Athletes are Grinders
First and foremost, it is important to be aware that Ice athletes are more likely to burn themselves out. While a lot of the other athlete types face pressures from outside factors, there is a good chance the Ice’s competitive “Type A” mentality may cause them to push themselves too hard.
The Ice athlete will never stop working. This is especially true when it comes to grinding towards goals they have set for themselves.
It is imperative to physical and mental/emotional well-being that they are monitored to make sure they are not burning themselves out while chasing their goals at all costs.
Beware the Ice Being Self-Critical
Ice athlete types are also strongly self critical. One dangerous situation to keep an eye on is the combination of this and their desire to improve. They could reach a point where they are pushing themselves hard, are not getting the results they desire,and then being extremely hard on themselves so they decide to push themselves even harder.
This could cause them problems in a number of different ways: they are draining themselves physically by pushing themselves in drills or activities to improve their skills, but could be damaging themselves emotionally and mentally if they aren’t starting to make headway towards the goals they have established, by talking down to themselves internally. In a sense, it’s taking intrinsic motivation and pressure to a whole different level.
An Ice athlete may not be accelerating at the rate in which they would hope for, or believe they could be, and they will get frustrated. It’s best to sit down with them and remind them that the goals they are striving for will be reached if they keep up their effort and determination, and that some skills take longer to develop than others. Try putting their goals and how to handle them into a more manageable perspective for an Ice athlete, so they aren’t too hard on themselves.
Help with Relaxation
It will benefit an Ice athlete if you they learn some relaxation and mindfulness techniques. This will help them sort out the things they have going on in their lives in a healthy and organized manner.
They need help in terms of calibrating “extreme events” in their lives (both in sports and in their everyday lives), so that they can act appropriately, as opposed to digging themselves into deeper emotional or mental holes that are tough to get out of. These events could be things like failing a test or coming up short during an athletic competition, where a mistake the athlete made cost themselves or their team a win.
Ice athletes will most likely be the kind of people who see the glass as half-empty as opposed to half-full, meaning they are often pessimistic.
Helping them develop a more positive mindset will go a long way in relieving some of the stress they may be feeling athletically, and will certainly help off of the playing field as well.
Let the Ice athlete know it isn’t always about winning. With the increased focus on competition and winning in youth sports, this is harder to do than it was in the past, especially since the desire to win is such a good trait for athletes to have. It may be strange to an Ice if you are trying to temper their winning expectations and competitive spirit.
The problem is, sometimes this desire can be pushed too far, and the fire stoked too bright– this could cause the Ice to meltdown in some extreme circumstances. It is important that they realize that you can’t win them all, and the purpose of youth sports is to hone their skills for the future and have fun with their teammates.
If an Ice athlete makes a mistake during a game, one of the worst things that can be done is having coaches, parents, or teammates harp on that mistake.
Ice athletes are already typically very hard on themselves as it is, so the added pressure from the outside will only increase any burnout-related feelings they could be feeling already.
Ice athletes are often their own biggest critics, like we mentioned before. Just make sure that they don’t get too down after a mistake. Instead of pointing out the mistake from the sideline, it’s more effective to shout words of encouragement like: “You’ll get ‘em next time!” or “Nice hustle on that play!”
These are all strategies that can be employed in order to reduce the stress that can lead to burnout in Ice athletes.
Here are the 5 key points to take away when trying to reduce the risk of burnout in Ice athletes:
- Beware of the Ice being overly competitive.
- Help an Ice ease up on being self critical, especially when they are chasing their goals.
- Teach an Ice athlete some relaxation techniques and how to handle tough situations.
- Remind the Ice that it isn’t always about winning, even though their competitive desires may push them to think otherwise.
- Remember that Ice will be their own biggest critics, so it’s important not to go too hard on them if they make a mistake.
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.