From The Trainer’s Room: Tips to avoid burnout during the long hockey season
The demands placed on athletes today in any given sport has increased immensely over the last ten years and it is not uncommon for California hockey players to play on a club and high school team at the same time.
This means 3-4 practices a week and 2-3 games a weekend, not to mention dryland and private lessons, which many older players are also involved with.
Tournament weekends can sometimes mean eight or more games in 3-4 days. Sound alarming? It should.
Where is the time for school and sleep, not to mention time to just hang out with friends and be a kid?
This type of busy schedule can lead to burnout during the hockey season. Burnout has been defined by sports psychologists as “physical/emotional exhaustion, sport devaluation, and reduced athletic accomplishment,” as stated by R.H. Cox in Sports Psychology: Concepts and Applications.
So what can be done to limit the chance of burnout? It starts with saying “no” sometimes. This sounds crazy, right? I’m a firm believer that any athlete needs a minimum of one day of rest a week during their peak season. The younger the athlete, the more time off they need.
Two important aspects of avoiding burnout is also recovery work and nutrition to improve an athlete’s health and decrease muscle soreness and fatigue. One common mistake in sports nutrition in athletes is that they do not eat between lunch and dinner even though they may have two to three hours of activity in that time period. The other nutrition mistake is not eating a quality protein source following practice.
Burnout in sports happens all too often and is preventable. Sports need to be fun for the athlete and the big picture has to be kept in mind. Prioritize training, utilize recovery techniques and occasionally just say “no, thank you” and skip a practice or clinic.
Chris Phillips ATC, CSCS, is a former athletic trainer in the NHL with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Washington Capitals and currently owns Compete Sports Performance and Rehab.