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Annotated Bibliography on Burnout Among Young Athletes

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This annotated bibliography is examining why young athletes experience burnout, and how it can be resolved. In the world of an athlete, it’s curious why they quit they sport they seemingly love and dedicate their time to. While one reason cannot be put on why young athletes burnout, all reasons are questioned and how these reasons give rise to each other. By becoming aware of the causes and symptoms of burnout, young athletes can further be helped physically and mentally.  The resources used in this annotated bibliography bring in multiple perspectives on the subject as well as insight into the scope of young athletes in sports. The research was conducted with articles and a book from the University Database. The articles and book were all within 3 years and peer-reviewed. To analyze the question, both the psychological and physical causes of youth burnout in sports were researched. Reasons for burnout included injuries from sports-specialized intensive training, as well as the influence of coaching on young athletes. The other articles focused more on the mental side of burnout caused by emotional stress. There was a correlation between the outside stressors of an athlete and the occurrence of burnout. Two articles discussed the self-determination theory and how it relates to the occurrence of burnout among young athletes. The articles below were chosen because most of them offered experiments and the authors own research to make their claims. Each of the resources included their own citations of academic research, making them credible.

Arthur-Banning, S. (2018). Burnout among Child and Adolescent athletes. Youth sports in America: the most important issues in youth sports today. Retrieved from //

The author of this book suggested that burnout among athletes should be considered an experience that occurs in stages. Athletes experiencing burnout in its beginning stages may experience an increasing state of fatigue and irritability as well as a loss of enthusiasm for their sport. The author also argued that some athletes might feel less successful in their sport, as well as increased frustration and anger associated with their athlete role. During the intermediate stage, athletes may show signs of being more withdrawn from their sport. At the advanced stage, athletes might experience cynicism and avoidant behavior toward their sport.

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Similar to an article previously cited, the lack of control over the athlete’s sport participation might contribute to the presence of burnout as explained by self-determination theory. The author included an example from 1996 where elite junior tennis players were examined. The results showed that athletes that reported higher levels of burnout also said they had less input into their own training. I find this article useful to answering why young athletes experience burnout because it argued that athletes sought control over their training. This was a new perspective of the self-determination theory that shows a stage related influence towards burnout.

Isoard-Gautheur, S., Toullioud, D., & Gistafsson, H. (2015, August 08). Associations between the perceived quality of the coach–athlete relationship and athlete burnout: An examination of the mediating role of achievement goals. Psychology of Sport & Exercise

Retrieved November 1, 2018, from //

The article discusses the coach-athlete relationship, and how this affects burnout in young athletes. The authors argued that through the style of coaching as well as the social support of the coach creates a motivational climate. Some studies showed, “that athletes were more at risk of experiencing burnout when they perceived low social support from their coaches, when coaches were seen as rigid and controlling, or when they failed to provide support” (p). The authors also provided a study involving the achievement-goal theory, where the athletes experienced a low sense of confidence due to the coaching behaviors. The authors asserted that athlete burnout comes from high pressure as well as high expectations from coaches. The athlete can also can dissatisfaction with the coach causing a hostile environment where burnout is a possibility. I think this would be beneficial to my question because the article points out a direct influence of a coach, which an athlete looks up to. The article showed how it is not the sport in which aids the athlete’s burnout, but the coach who influences the athletes attitudes towards the sport. This gives a different perspective versus the physical side of burnout.

Jayanthi, N. A., MD, LaBella, C. R., MD, & Fischer, D. (2015, February 2).

Sports-Specialized Intensive Training and the Risk of Injury in Young Athletes. The American Journal of Sports MedicineRetrieved October 29, 2018, from //

In the article the authors discussed how there is a current trend towards sports specialization and training year round. Their results concluded that, “athletes with a serious overuse injury had 1.90 times the odds of being highly specialized as compared with participants with a non-serious overuse injury. Injured athletes had 1.45 times the odds of picking a main sport to compete in compared to multisport athletes.” The authors argued that the reasoning for these results could be that specialized athletes are more likely to develop imbalances in muscle strength and flexibility because their body is used to only one set of motor patterns. Specialized athletes typically spend more time in organized sports versus unstructured forms. The authors believed that organized training does not always allow enough rest periods for a young athlete. I find this article useful to my question because it gave reasons to why young athletes experience injuries. Single sport specialization is related to these injuries and can lead to burnout in young athletes. This article discussed overuse injuries related to physical involvement in sport as well. This article discusses the physical causes to burnout and gives reasons on how to solve it.

Jordalen, G., Lemyre, P., & Durand-Bush, N. (2016, November 11). Exhaustion Experiences in Junior Athletes: The Importance of Motivation and Self-Control Competencies. Frontiers in Psychology. Retrieved October 29, 2018, from //

The authors in this article wrote that self-determined athletes are less prone to experience burnout. The self-determination theory states that “athletes can be moved and inspired to practice sports by tow types of motivation, self-determined and controlled”. Controlled forms of motivation, the authors argue, drive negative sport participation. Over time this negative sport participation leads to overtraining and burnout. The authors included an example that, “controlling oneself to consistently practice sports without adequate preparation and recovery will lead to fatigue and ultimately burnout”. The athletes who experiences burnout had lots of demands, including emotional, physical, and psychosocial. The results of their experiment concluded that although the trend for highly determined athletes led to exhaustion, the aspect of exercising self-control determined if the athlete experienced burnout. The most prevailing aspects in determining whether an athlete will experience burnout are the quality of motivation and the capacity to have self-control. I find this article useful to answering my question because it discussed the mental side of burnout. The mental side included self-control from an external stimulus, and how this affects how an athlete performs as well. Without motivation of self-control an athlete has a stronger possibility of experiencing burnout.

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Madigan, D. J., Toeber, J., & Passfield, L. (2016, May 31). Perfectionism and changes in athlete burnout over three months: Interactive effects of personal standards and evaluative concerns perfectionism. Psychology of Sport & Exercise. Retrieved November 1, 2018, from //

The authors of this article argued that there relationship between perfectionism and athlete burnout. Evaluative perfectionism had the highest accounts of burnout, but personal standards of perfectionism were negatively related to burnout. The article discussed how burnout is cause by sport devaluation. Perfectionism can be adaptive in sport. Low personal perfection and high evaluative perfection were associated with lower changes in total burnout with a lower sense of accomplishment. The two types of perfectionism showed to buffer each other out, meaning at low levels of personal standards perfectionism, the effects of evaluative concerns perfectionism still showed sport devaluation. This source is useful to my question because it brings up a new argument of how athletes can burnout and quit their sport. It talked about how perfectionism can cause an athlete to see now value in their sport. Perfectionism also has two branches, personal perfection and evaluative, personal meaning if the athlete themselves believes they need to be perfect versus someone else perceiving the athlete as perfect based off performance. Limitations to the authors experiment do exist, such as only a sample size of 111 athletes. The authors acknowledged this and believed other variables of burnout should be tested in a later experiment.

Sabato, T. M., Walch, T. J., & Caine, D. J. (2016, August 31). The elite young athlete: Strategies to ensure physical and emotional health. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine. Retrieved October 29, 2018, from //

This article discusses the frequency of burnout among young athletes who are over-trained. The authors argue that these athletes “are more likely to have frequent decreased interest in training and competition, decreased self-confidence, and inability to concentrate.” Life stress strongly predicted the occurrence of injury in athletes. Players with high stress levels said they had little to no social resources or coping skills to deal with the stress. The authors also asserted that “athletes with mental toughness have a strong tendency to view their personal environment as controllable, to perceive themselves as capable and influential, and to stay committed even under adverse circumstances”. The article cited an example about elite youth cricketers, who had elevated levels of mental toughness. These athletes possessed more assets such as social support and a positive outlook towards themselves. I found this article useful in my research because it highlighted that social aspects, such as support from family and friends, can affect burnout in young athletes. Athletes want to feel supported and empowered in order to continue in their sport. I believe this is an important perspective to look into the mind of an athlete, and understand what leads to the burnout in their sport.


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