Coaching Tip - January 2018

    Avoid burnout
    By varying your training schedule

    Burnout is one of the biggest issues in tennis and it is common at the highest levels of play where competition is fierce and practice is intense. However it is also prevalent at club level where junior players in particular are aspiring to take their game to a much higher level in as short a time as possible.
    Burnout in tennis as in other sports is often defined as physical, emotional and mental exhaustion but it is also described as the distress resulting from such exhaustion.
    There are many causes of burnout and it usually develops slowly over time rather than suddenly.
    If you are completely exhausted mentally and physically and have already reached burnout, the only real solution is to take time off from tennis training and matches. Return to tennis or another sport when you feel you are ready again, with hopefully a greater knowledge to avoid becoming another victim of total burnout.

    The three most common causes of burnout are

    1 - Pressure to win
    Whether you're struggling to improve your tournament ranking or just fighting to be selected for your local club team, too much pressure to win at all costs can be extremely frustrating when the results are not coming as fast as you expect.
    This pressure can come from within (self) or parent(s), coach(es), team managers or even fellow team mates.
    You can be caught in a vicious circle where your ambition and drive to succeed actually causes your performance to decline. You can eventually give up or throw in the towel never to play tennis again rather than patiently discovering the keys to improvement and recovery.
    Solution 1: Rediscover the Process
    Winning is great, but try to take one point at a time instead of thinking about holding up the trophy. Focus all your mental and physical energies into the moment (what you are actually doing) so that you forget about the outcome of winning versus losing! Keep in touch with reality for example the emphasis should be on the intangibles such as striving to learn, to find meaning in your activities, and find success in performance rather than winning. When your thoughts are not about the pressure to win, winning often takes care of itself.
    In addition talk to your coach(es), parent(s) and/or team mates to get their support to get you back on track (in the zone). It often helps to talk it over.

    2 - Overworked and Lacking Fun
    Whenever the fun of sport or tennis in particular vanishes for an extended period of time, you will be susceptible to burnout. You may become too serious or too intense about performing well and the whole point of the activity or match is lost. You spend all your time working on your tennis game so that there is no time left to live. Tennis at any level should be fun or your performance will decline and burnout becomes more likely.
    Your overloaded training schedule may also lead to injuries and also to long term illness.
    The body is not able to recover from any sickness or injury niggles because there is usually very little down or me time.
    Solution 2: Vary your Schedule to enjoy your Life
    Speak to your coach(es) and/or fitness trainer(s) so that you can reintroduce or add variety and fun into your training schedules. Reduce the number of hours you spend training particularly on court and allow time for social activities and other events that have nothing to do with tennis.
    The reduced training hours will also give you more rest or me time to help you recover from sickness or injuries.
    Find another sport so that you can add some cross training sessions into your schedule.
    In addition factor in some down time with no physical exertion to recover or rest from your training activities.
    When you are practicing, vary your training drills so that you find new ways to enjoy the experience.
    If you can manage to inject some fun back into your life, tennis will become less of a chore and your keenness will return allowing you with this new freedom to be more creative and play with more flair.

    3 - Poor Social Support
    Poor social support is one of the most common sources of burnout in sport. This might mean poor relations with your coach(es), trainer(s) or fellow team mates at your club.
    In addition your intensity for training and the quest for tennis success may have cost you your friends outside of tennis.
    In some cases the coach(es) may also have lost your support and/or the support of your team.
    Whatever the case, it is very difficult to remain upbeat and motivated in an environment with low or perceived low social support.
    Solution 3: Reconnect With others – Invent your social life
    In life realistically it is impossible to be best friends with the players in your club team let alone your tournament or match opponent(s)
    As you strive for optimal performance, however, it's sometimes easy to forget the enormous impact that your social support group has on your self-esteem and performance. You might think that in your intense schedule that there isn't any time to develop relationships because you are too busy performing and trying to succeed. The fact is, a balanced social life off the court, and social cohesion within a team setting whether that is your coaching team or club team, acts as a buffer against potential burnout. Share your feelings with others and they will usually be glad to reciprocate.
    In particular take time to talk to and relate your feelings to your parents, coaches and team mates so that they can monitor your physical and mental well being and help you to keep on track.
    Get away from your sporting environment as much as possible so that you develop your own social network.
    Keep in touch with friends and relatives and share your good and bad times with them so that the world doesn’t pass you by.

    Before you can combat burnout, you must first recognize it as a problem and then act to change it.
    Burnout is very common in tennis as in all other sports so I have hopefully given you some information and tips to deal with any symptoms you may have either now or in the future.
    Just a remember that it is important to reduce the pressure to win at all costs by finding time to have fun and getting connected socially.
    If these tips don't work and your feelings of burnout continue to persist even after you've taken time off, you may want to seek the assistance of a sports psychologist specializing in tennis or other qualified mental health professional.
    I hope that the skills outlined above will help you to overcome burnout now or in the future and become a part of your overall preparation for your tennis game so that you win more matches and as a result take your game to the next level.

    Try not to confuse yourself by thinking too much.
    Keep it Simple. Relax and let it happen

    Let me know if you can think of any other options to help you achieve a more consistent and effective physical and mental game.

    Tennis the game of a lifetime

    Contact me by Email if you have any comments or helpful Tennis hints.
    Let me know the things that work for you.
    Coach Steve