Does my child have sports burnout?

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Dear Dr. Stankovich,

We are concerned our child may be experiencing youth sports burnout. Can you offer any tips about what we can do, or how we should decide if we should seek professional assistance?

B.A., Upper Arlington

Dear B.A.,

Youth sports burnout is becoming a major national problem and while there are no specific criteria, or an emotional disorder called "youth sports burnout," there are some factors you should consider.

Ask your child if she is still having fun playing sports. You might ask if she feels a break from sports might help recharge her batteries. Trust your gut on this - if you feel your child needs a break, you are probably right.

As for professional assistance, in most instances it is not necessary because a short break from sports can often work wonders. But if your child is feeling depressed, anxious, agitated, frustrated, angry, or suffering severely in any other ways (i.e. school grades going down), you may want to discuss the option of professional treatment.

Dear Dr. Stankovich,

It seems that youth sports are now frequently broadcast on national television (Little League World Series, McDonalds All American Basketball Classic, etc.). Is all this exposure a good thing? Are there things we should do as parents to help our child put all this into perspective?

P.W., Newark

Dear P.W.,

I agree with you; it does seem like youth sports have gone big time these days. I'm afraid whether we like it or not, all this exposure is here to stay. The increased media exposure glamorizes youth sports and in some ways makes it even more desirable for kids to want to "make it" one day and become a professional athlete.

Since we know that only a very small percentage of kids will ever play professional sports, it is important that parents sit down with their children and discuss the realities. In fact, the vast majority of kids you see playing in youth sporting events on television never make it to the pros-and really only a few kids will end up playing at the college level.

On the bright side, watching outstanding youth-level athletes excel on the national stage can be quite exciting, and can be a terrific opportunity to watch games with your child (and maybe even pick up a thing or two). The exposure (or over-exposure) of youth sports on television will end up being what you as a family make of it. Take this opportunity to communicate with your child the realities of playing professional sports.

More resources

Dr. Chris Stankovich offers individual athletic counseling and team/league seminars. Call (614) 561-4482, or visit for more details.