Athletic Setbacks: athletic burnout

Luccini Rodriguez

More stories from Luccini Rodriguez

Ally Werkema
January 26, 2023
Thomas Carano
January 25, 2023

Many athletes’ love for the game is crucial to their athletic careers. But, there comes a time when some athletes may experience a loss of that love, or what many would call athletic burnout. From this point going forward, they are presented with a choice as to whether they will choose to move forward in their careers or put a pause on their dreams—I chose to press pause. 

Since the days of my youth, I have dreamed of playing collegiate volleyball at a top-level school. With having such a big dream at such a young age, I quickly came to the realization that it would take a tremendous amount of work, time, and dedication to achieve my dream. So, I began putting in the physical work that I was told it would take to propel me to that top level: joining club teams, going to endless amounts of camps, and beginning strength training. What I failed to realize at the time was that in order to achieve such an immense dream, I would need to put in the mental work that no one talks about. 

After beginning my high school volleyball career, I started to feel like the work I put in was starting to pay off. I made the JV team my freshman year and felt confident in my abilities on the court. I started to feel at home every time I touched the ball and knew that this was the thing I wanted to do forever. Little did I know, this feeling would eventually fade. 

The pressure of playing at a high school level began to build up, and before I knew it, I began experiencing something many athletes fear most: athletic burnout. I started losing not only myself but my passion for the one thing I loved most. Within a matter of days, I went from never wanting to leave the gym to never wanting to touch a ball; I was constantly exhausted, never enjoyed playing, and never wanted to partake in any sort of volleyball-related activity. At the time, I did not know what to do or how to fix it, and I feared stepping back due to the fact that I did not think anyone would understand why.

So, self-consciously, I remained on the court and continued to play in the hopes of rediscovering the love I once had for the game. As I progressed further into my first high school season, my performance worsened, my confidence decreased, and my “want” to play just was not there. With this being said, rather than continuing the year on a club team, I knew that I needed to step back and put in the mental work. 

After taking a season off, I returned to playing over the summer leading into my sophomore year to prepare myself for the upcoming school season. I knew that this season would be different. I knew that with the time I had taken off, I had found my love for the game again. During my sophomore season, I began to truly enjoy the thing I am most passionate about and ended up having a season to remember. 

With such immense goals ahead, taking time away from their sport may not be ideal for many athletes. Their love and desire for their game will keep them in their place of play no matter the circumstances, which is understandable, but in my experience, taking time away from the court was needed and in the long run was best.