The reality is we as a lacrosse community don’t talk about burnout enough. On social media we see success stories left and right as if the grind should never stop. The hustle culture makes us scared to even skip one day of practice because we are fearful of being left behind. But as every lacrosse player knows, burnout is a real issue in any way shape or form.
Some players suffer physical burnout that puts them extremely tired at times. Others suffer mental burnout that drains their energy to even think about lacrosse. At some point in your career, you will experience similar situations like this. So what are some ways to allow lacrosse to continue to be enjoyable and fun?
In this post, we will explore the reason behind burnout, how to properly deal with burnout and what you can do to pull yourself out of the trough. If you are feeling lost or losing interest in lacrosse, here’s a helpful guide for you.
Why does burnout happen
For every aspiring athlete, their life is consumed by the sport they commit themselves to. When I was in high school, there wasn’t a single day that I didn’t touch my lacrosse stick. It wasn’t that my parents forced me to, or anything. I knew in order to be great comes with sacrifices.
When others were enjoying the weekend or the holidays, I was playing wall ball and doing conditioning. High school was all about lacrosse. During the four years of high school, I probably only skipped lacrosse for 10 days in total.
However, it was during my senior year, after getting recruited to play at college, that the void suddenly overwhelmed me. My biggest goal in high school was to get good enough so that I could play at college. Once the goal was achieved, I didn’t know better to prepare myself for the question, “then what”.
And once I stopped training at such an intense level, I just couldn’t bring myself to play lacrosse anymore. The non-stop training for the past four years completely burned me out. As a result, I took a 3-month break from lacrosse because I just didn’t enjoy playing anymore.
And this dreadful feeling is a perfect demonstration of burnout. Similarly, if you start to wonder what’s the point of all this, it’s also a sign of burnout. All of which are due to a number of reasons, such as too much practice, too much external or self-pressure, fierce competition and a lack of support system.
How to deal with burnout
To finish off my personal story, after taking a hiatus from lacrosse, I felt ready to play lacrosse again both mentally and physically. And throughout my college career, I developed a greater level of love and passion for the sport. Looking back at my experience, there are a few things I think could help you to rediscover your passion for lacrosse.
Recognize your burnout
I was surprised by how many people shrug off the importance of recognizing their problems, in this case, burnout. This is by far the most important thing for people who are going through burnout to realize which is I am no longer enjoying lacrosse right now because of [insert your reason]. Avoiding your problem only exacerbates its effect on you. It’s ok and totally normal to feel burnout.
Take a step back
As we discussed before, burnout stems from the feeling of loss. You don’t understand the purpose of playing anymore. This could happen as you focused too much on playing itself which let you lose sight of the spark that inspired you initially. Thus, it’s important to step back and reexamine your drive and goals.
I recommend you do this exercise not only to deal with burnout but as a regular discussion with yourself. Similar to meditation, this helps you clear your thoughts and stay grounded with yourself.
The most effective way to deal with burnout is simply resting. Maybe you had too much training and too much pressure. Merely thinking about it doesn’t solve the problem. Reduce any lacrosse related events to a level you feel comfortable with. This includes practice, games, individual training, etc.
In the meantime, go explore things outside of lacrosse. More often than not, you never had the time to do anything else. It’s time to hit a pause and make a change. Find the thing that you also wanted to do but never had the time to. It could be making more friends, trying out other sports or a road trip. The idea is to remove lacrosse from your mind and life for a while.
After a much needed break, you will gain more clarity as to what went wrong in the first place and what makes you love lacrosse.
Talk to someone
You don’t need to keep it all to yourself. Burnout is a natural and common occurrence for players. Go talk to your parents, your coach and your lacrosse pals about it. Be candid with them. Tell them your experience, your struggle and your plan. In addition, ask them what they think you should do. Your coach will have the most experience so ask for his advice and see how it could help you.
Try out different things in the game
This is a popular method coaches use to battle players’ burnout. They will let players try out different positions. Surprisingly, sometimes they will find newly discovered talent when players switch positions. This will also help players reduce fatigue from playing in one position for too long and gain new perspectives on the game.
Additionally, why not try to coach a game? Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, trying out different roles creates new excitement and surprises you didn’t know exist before.
Misconceptions about burnout
Because burnout can feel taboo at times, players and parents have made certain assumptions that are in fact unfounded. In this section, let’s debunk the misconceptions about burnout.
Burnout isn’t serious; it goes away on its own
This is the most popular misconception about burnout. We don’t recognize having something too much can be a problem. As a result, when players get burnout, they simply don’t think about it and hope it will go away on its own. I can’t help but wonder how much damage this mindset has taken a toll on athletes.
It’s worth noting that burnout does go away but you have to work on it. Follow the tips I laid out in the previous section. As someone who successfully resolved burnout, I see burnout as a sign that says something went wrong and time to reset myself.
Burnout is an excuse for being lazy
This is again caused by the perception that being an athlete means you can’t rest. You need to practice every day. As much as we like to talk about training and practice, we don’t recognize resting plays an important role in an athlete’s success.
Hence, people avoid expressions like taking a break or resetting the body and mind, because it sounds like an excuse. Even the best athletes go on vacations so there’s no need to feel ashamed when feeling tired. Be honest with yourself and do what’s best for you.
Once you stop playing, you can never start again
This is another big myth. There are countless examples of players quitting temporarily and regaining passion for the sport later. It’s true that your skills can get rusty but as you quickly return to normal practices, they come back quickly.
One thing that could help you eliminate this concern is not to give yourself pressure. The bigger the fear, the more likely you will not muster the confidence to come back again. During the break, you simply don’t set any expectations and have fun enjoying life without lacrosse. Letting life take you wherever it takes you. And I am certain you will find yourself missing lacrosse before long.