Overtraining Syndrome in Young Basketball Athletes
When asked the question what they aspire to be when they grow up, a large number of young athletes respond that they dream of being an Olympic or professional player. While this is a worthwhile and lofty positive goal, there can occasionally be a downside. Many young athletes will take training and competing too far.
What is Burnout or Overtraining Syndrome?
Burnout or overtraining syndrome occurs when an athlete has worsening performance despite intense training. It is believed to result from a multitude of factors, such as constant high levels of physiologic or emotional stress, fatigue, immune system failure, or insufficient recovery time.
Young players who experience overtraining syndrome may go through a variety of psychological, physiological, or hormonal changes…
- Decreased sports or school performance
- Chronic muscle or joint pain
- Mood changes
- Elevated resting heart rate
- Lack of enthusiasm or ambition
- Difficulty completing usual routines
- Sleep disorders (more or less sleep than usual)
- Decreased appetite and/or weight loss
- Increased injuries, illness, or infections
Is My Child at Risk of Overtraining/Burnout?
It has been shown that young athletes who develop overtraining syndrome typically share specific characteristics or experiences. These could include one or more of the following:
- Specialising in one sport from an early age
- Playing one sport, but competing on multiple teams at once
- 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
How Do I Avoid Burnout in my Young Basketball Player?
Reducing the chance of burnout can start with these strategies:
- Break the year, month and week into training and resting periods.
- Cross-training; focus on conditioning, weightlifting, strength training, flexibility, or core strengthening varying the type of training to include exercise like yoga, pilates and swimming.
- Schedule in strict periods of rest to ensure full rehabilitation from injury.
- Plan for slow progression and avoid a rapid increase in workload or intensity.
- Concentrate on themes such as fun, sportsmanship, fitness, skill acquisition, safety, or education.
- Be sure to check in with the athlete frequently. Ask about sports motivation. Is it still fun?
- Focus on appropriate nutrition, hydration, and sleep.
The dramatic increase in sports participation in recent years is good because children are exercising and staying fit. However, it is important that parents and coaches talk with their young athletes to ensure they are working at the level that is appropriate for the individual.