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Athlete Burnout: This Soccer Player Has Mixed Feelings

Do Parents Contribute to Burnout In Sports?

I have a love-hate relationship with soccer. I love some parts of it, like scoring a goal, playing my best, or winning the game. But at the same time, I hate certain things, like when a parent screams during the whole game, or when I don’t get any playing time in the game even though I made it to every practice, or when I’m criticized after a tough loss.

I usually have games on the weekends, and they’re some of the best memories of my life. Making the experience even better: my dad coached me for years and my mom has always cheered me on from the sidelines. It’s really great when parents can make it to games and support their kids. We notice when you’re there. It makes us feel confident and loved, and that helps increase our passion for the sport.

It also helps when, after the game, someone tells me that I did a good job, and that they know I played my hardest. When I give it my all, it feels good when others notice. But when I suffer a devastating or frustrating loss, I just don’t want to talk about it, and I especially don’t want to hear a blow-by-blow account of what I did wrong.

I also hate it when someone yells non-stop during a game. It’s so distracting, and frankly, quite annoying. I really don’t care what team you’re rooting for, just please stop making so much noise! During the whole game, there is always that one parent who yells non-stop. Even if they’re yelling positive things trying to cheer on the players, the constant yelling distracts me.

Adults Creating Sport Burnout

Besides the parents setting the tone for the players, the coach plays an even bigger part in the players’ experience on the field. I absolutely hate when I don’t get playing time, especially knowing that I went to every practice, showed up on time, and gave it my best effort. It’s especially frustrating when the coach starts a player who missed practice all week and lets him play the entire game, while I just sit and warm the bench. That tells me loud and clear that hard work, commitment, and reliability don’t matter. I don’t really care who that player is or how good he is. I just would like to get in the game for a few minutes. Is that too much to ask? Fortunately, this hasn’t happened to me this year (thanks to my improved skills).

Even though I have this love-hate relationship with soccer, it is one of my favorite pastimes. I haven’t quite reached athlete burnout just yet. And, if parents and coaches truly put the players’ best interests first, it can be a more positive experience for everyone, both on and off the field.


Parker Beach

Parker Beach is a sophomore and plays center mid-field on his high school’s JV soccer team and state cup level club soccer team.