What is senior athlete burnout?


Maddie C

Many athletes are seen on the field everyday conditioning and practicing.

Maddie Cowan, Senior Staff Writer

Many say that practice makes perfect.What happens though, when there’s too much practice and too little recovery time? Athlete burnout is characterized by a decline in performance, increased fatigue, decreased focus, a higher frequency of injuries, and lack of motivation due to the chronic stress that accompanies the student-athlete lifestyle. Burnout can be experienced by anyone who undergoes ongoing external pressures, however it is especially common in athletes approaching the end of senior year.

“If I’m feeling burnt out, I have a way lower level of motivation, so I usually perform worse because I’m spread too thin and focused on too many things,” said future UPenn Gymnast Carly Oniki (‘22).

A snapchat post shows how students are tired from the long practices and demands of a student athlete lifestyle. (Maddie C)

 When coupled with senioritis, trends show more and more seniors are burnt out as their time in high school comes to an end.  Since the majority of these athletes have been doing sports their whole lives, the excessive practices during senior year are exhausting, as most of them have reached a natural stopping point and are ready to move on. 

“Fall of senior year is when I really had my breaking point due to a lot of recruiting issues,” said Varsity Softball Captain Sophia Youngberg (‘22) 

COVID has also made things draining for the seniors this year. Since there was such a large gap in the amount of time scouts were able to observe athletes’ recruitment process and a significant loss of training opportunities, many of the athletes spent their time in quarantine feeling hopeless and having second thoughts about playing sports in college. 

“During COVID, I definitely had a mindset shift because I finally saw what life was like without softball. I was actually able to pick up different hobbies and really find myself because for so long softball was my identity,” said Youngberg. 

After finally taking an extended break from what they devoted their life to, athletes who now have almost had a senior year back to normal are feeling overwhelmed by the long practices and expectations placed on them by their coaches. 

It makes it harder to prioritize what you need to get done throughout the day. You’re gonna have to preserve your energy for going to practice or going to a game or if you need to dedicate your time to school,” said Sideline Cheer Captain Riley Richards (‘22)

Through the years of participating in their sports though, these hardworking student athletes have found ways to cope with the stress and manage their time effectively. 

“I think when that happens, the best thing to do is to remove things from my plate whenever I can to help me manage my time better,” said Oniki. 

While there are ways to help manage a busy schedule, it poses a problem that almost every student athlete is feeling this way towards the end of high school. While many coaches may blame it on senioritis, the excessive practice time can negatively impact even the most dedicated athletes’ performances. Even though part of the pressure is just the nature of the sport, there’s plenty of room for reform of the athletic programs to better support athletes. 

“I just feel like athletics are so much more intense than they used to be. It’s more about who can be the best instead of just having fun, and I feel like people take it too seriously,” said Richards.