This year has been all soccer for my son. He has played almost nonstop from the freshman season until now, and has become an excellent striker; starting for the varsity team as a sophomore. While I am proud of all he has accomplished, I am beginning to see the signs of burnout. He isn’t finishing his homework, and is fighting a nagging hip injury. I want him to take the spring off to regroup. He’s worried that his skills will decline, and wants to keep playing. We need a professional to help us choose, what do you recommend?
– Burned Out
Dear Burned Out,
First, congratulations on having such a driven young man! In the era of smart phones, social media, and easy internet entertainment, having a year-round athlete is certainly something to be proud of. He is setting himself up for a lifetime of activity and athleticism; and his drive will serve him well in the future.
Yet we must balance that drive with a level of realism. Should we compete all the time? No. So how do we choose when to stop competing and focus on something different? While I cannot referee between your fears and your son’s desires, hopefully I can give you some data to help you decide the right course of action.
Lastly, the largest issue of sports burnout is not the physical worries, but the mental ones. If your athlete is overtired and unable to keep his focus enough to maintain his grades, I would view that as a far more detrimental issue that losing the varsity position. Why? Because a sharp mind leads to success both in the classroom and on the field.
Taking a break from time to time is important. As long as you and your son have a plan to maintain his physicality, I believe he will come back to the sport better than he left it.
– Coach Grant
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