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Burnout in sport: From theory to intervention

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Abstract

The pursuit of excellence requires a great deal of motivation and can potentially be stressful due to the demands inherent in training and competing. Consequently, athlete burnout has received considerable recognition in the sport community. In this chapter we describe the nature of athlete burnout and review theory and research stemming from stress (overtraining and social-psychological models) and motivation (achievement, commitment, and self-determination) perspectives on this issue. In recent years, dispositional factors associated with burnout have garnered a considerable empirical attention, so we review that literature. While recognizing the importance of dispositional factors, we also note the importance of environmental factors with a specific focus on addressing the need for cross-cultural research. We then describe strategies that potentially reduce the risk of burnout and also result in adaptive outcomes that facilitate athlete motivation and well-being. These include (a) targeting factors identified in theory/research that may increase burnout vulnerability aligned with an evidence-based practice approach, (b) recognizing that burnout potentially is best prevented by creating a strong athlete-sport culture fit, and (c) structuring sport to promote engagement, the conceptual opposite of burnout. Preventing burnout not only minimizes maladaptive outcomes associated with sport participation, but also facilitates positive human functioning and athlete well-being.

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... In addition, athletes may experience social pressure from important others such as coaches, parents, and fans. Scholars also recognized that burnout potentially has a negative impact on the quality of athletes' sport experiences, motivation, and performance which may result in athletes dropping out of sport (Raedeke et al. 2014). In addition, burnout was presumed to have a negative impact on athletes' physical health and psychological well-being (Gustafsson et al. 2017). ...
... According to the data of Web of Science (WOS) 2021, the study by Raedeke and Smith (2001) is the most cited study when searching with the keyword "athlete burnout" (WOS, 2021). Not only is the ABQ used frequently within English speaking countries, it has also been adapted to other languages and cultures including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, and Taiwanese (Raedeke et al. 2014). ...
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... In addition, no diagnostic criteria or theoretical frameworks exist for identifying what constitutes a maladaptive burnout state on commonly used burnout assessment tools. Linking burnout questionnaire responses to clinically significant markers of ill-being and maladaptive outcomes may facilitate our understanding of its prevalence and public health significance (Raedeke et al., 2014). ...
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The present editorial provides a series of perspectives on the future of burnout in sport. Specifically, for the first time, seven burnout researchers offer their opinions and suggestions for how, as a field, we can progress our understanding of this important topic. A broad range of ideas are discussed including the relevance of the social context, the value of theory and collaboration, and the use of public health frameworks in future work. It is hoped that these perspectives will help stimulate debate, reinforce and renew priorities, and guide research in this area over the coming years.
... The ABQ was developed in the United States based on the above-mentioned concept and Kamimura A, et al: Effect of athlete burnout on depression is today the most popular scale for measuring athlete burnout worldwide; it has been translated from English into Spanish, 39) 40) Portuguese, 41) French, 42) Chinese, 43) German, Norwegian, Swedish, and Arabic. 44) Although specific to the sport setting, the ABQ is also is conceptually similar to the Maslach Burnout Inventory, 45) which is the most common burnout measure worldwide for assessing burnout in workplace settings. ...
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Objective: To establish a Japanese version of the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (ABQ) -­ an internationally renowned standard assessment tool for athlete burnout (Study 1) -­ and to determine the association of athlete burnout with depressive states using this questionnaire (Study 2). Methods: Participants in Study 1 were 516 Japanese university athletes (M=19.9, SD=1.29) who played 13 different sports. We verified the test-retest reliability, internal consistency, and construct validity of the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire-Japanese version (ABQ-J). We also assessed its concurrent validity in comparison with the Athlete Burnout Inventory (ABI), which is based on a psychopathological model of depression within Japanese culture. Participants in Study 2 were 373 different Japanese university athletes (M=20.01, SD=1.27) from 21 sports. Severity of participants’ depressive states was measured using the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale. Results: In Study 1, no items exhibited a floor or ceiling effect. The ABQ-J showed high internal consistency and a three-factor structure, similar to the original questionnaire. A confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the ABQ-J had a good model fit and the test-retest reliability coefficients were satisfactory. In Study 2, a positive correlation was found between athlete burnout and depressive states. Individuals with severe athlete burnout faced 3-4 times the risk of moderate-to-severe depressive states than individuals without severe athlete burnout. Conclusions: The ABQ-J effectively measures burnout among Japanese university athletes. Cross-sectional evidence suggests a positive association between athlete burnout and severity of depressive states or depressive disorder.
... The depersonalization implies a negative and carefree attitude towards the clients and/or recipients of the service. In sport, the central element is the sport in itself, so this depersonalization could be assimilated to the negative attitude of athletes towards the sport they practice and their participation in it [43]. ...
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This cross-sectional study examined the impact of adherence to Mediterranean diet on burnout syndrome risk in 94 athletes 8–15 years old. Diet pattern and burnout syndrome risk were assessed through the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire and the KIDMED Questionnaire. 55.3% of girls and 16.1% of boys had a high risk of burnout syndrome and the risk increased with age. Of the 78.7% with low adherence to Mediterranean diet, 31.1% showed no risk of burnout syndrome, 33.8% had a moderate risk, and 35.1% high risk. Of the 21.3% with a high adherence to Mediterranean diet, 35% had no risk of burnout syndrome, 45% had a moderate risk, and 20% had a high risk. Participants with moderate/high burnout syndrome risk were more likely to be girls and spend a higher number of hours watching television or playing video games. There is not enough statistical evidence in this study to reject the independence between the level of adherence to the Mediterranean diet and the risk of burnout syndrome in children, except in the case of daily consumption of fresh or cooked vegetables.
... Quanto às dimensões do burnout, de salientar que as dimensões de realização pessoal reduzida, exaustão emocional/física e de desvalorização da prática desportiva apresentaram correlações positivas significativas com a ansiedade (excetuando a dimensão preocupação, no caso da realização pessoal reduzida e da desvalorização da prática desportiva). Estes resultados confirmam o princípio de que a experiência de burnout, traduzida pela maior exaustão emocional/física e desvalorização da prática desportiva, está associada a elevados níveis de ansiedade(Raedeke et al., 2014). ...
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Este estudo analisa a importância dos processos de avaliação cognitiva na experiência de ansiedade e de burnout bem como a importância da avaliação cognitiva e da ansiedade na predição do burnout. Participaram nesta investigação 711 atletas (89 do sexo feminino e 622 do sexo masculino), com idades compreendidas entre os 12 e os 19 anos (M = 14.77; DP = 1.86). Os participantes responderam a um protocolo de avaliação composto por três instrumentos, além de um questionário demográfico: Escala de Ansiedade no Desporto-2; Escala de Avaliação Cognitiva e Questionário de Burnout para Atletas. Os resultados demonstraram que a avaliação cognitiva primária desempenha um papel fundamental na experiência de ansiedade e de burnout, dado que a perceção de ameaça correspondeu a maiores níveis de ansiedade e burnout e a perceção de desafio correspondeu a menores níveis nestas variáveis. Além disso, verificou-se que as dimensões da avaliação cognitiva primária, em conjunto com as dimensões da ansiedade, foram variáveis preditoras do burnout. Em suma, os resultados evidenciaram a importância da avaliação cognitiva no estudo dos estados emocionais dos atletas, sugerindo a continuação de investigações futuras neste domínio.
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1. Introduction Part I. Similarities and Differences in Behavior across Cultures: 2. Individual development: infancy and early childhood 3. Individual development: childhood, adolescence and adulthood 4. Social behavior 5. Personality 6. Cognition 7. Emotion 8. Language 9. Perception Part II. Relationships between Behavior, Culture and Biology: 10. Contributions of cultural anthropology 11. Contributions of evolutionary biology 12. Methodology and theory Part III. Applying Research Findings across Cultures: 13. Acculturation 14. Intercultural relations 15. Intercultural communication and training 16. Work and organizations 17. Health 18. Culturally informed and appropriate psychology Epilogue Glossary of key terms.
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I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
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The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the process of burning out in endurance athletes. The experiences of three elite cross-country skiers who left their sport due to burnout were explored. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and inductively analyzed. The Athlete Burnout Questionnaire and training logs were used to validate the interviews and to enrich the analysis. The burnout process was found to evolve with different severity and time perspectives in the three cases. Athletic identity and achievement strivings to validate self-esteem were found to be important driving forces in the burnout process. Also, chronic lack of mental and physical recovery as well as early skiing success leading to high expectations comprised common themes in the burnout process.
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This study examined the factorial validity of the Eades Burnout Inventory (EABI) and the prevalence of burnout in adolescent elite athletes and whether burnout is more common in individual sports than in team sports. The EABI was distributed to 980 athletes (402 females and 578 males) in 29 different sports. Confirmatory-factor analyses revealed an acceptable factorial validity for a theoretically supported four-factor model of the EABI. Between 1% and 9% of the athletes displayed elevated burnout scores on these four subscales. The hypothesis of higher prevalence of burnout in individual sports was, however, not supported. Furthermore, no correlation between training load and burnout scores was found. These findings suggest that factors other than training load must be considered when athletes at risk for burnout are investigated.
Article
Raedeke (1997) conceptualized athlete burnout as the enduring existence of three dimensions: physical and emotional exhaustion, sport devaluation, and reduced sense of athletic accomplishment. The purpose of this study was to assess the extent to which Raedeke's conceptualization is efficacious within the context of junior tennis in the United Kingdom by exploring burned out players' perceptions of key symptoms and consequences associated with each dimension. Six former national junior tennis players who were identified as burned out underwent a structured interview exploring their experiences of burnout. Content analysis identified symptoms and consequences specific to each burnout dimension, but also considerable overlap and interrelationships among dimensions. In more severe cases of burnout, consequences continued after departure from the sport and were salient in non-athletic domains. Considerable significance was attached to reduced sense of athletic accomplishment, diverging from work-related literature where this burnout dimension is considered of limited importance (Cox, Tisserand, & Taris, 2005).
Article
This study investigated the relationship between organizational stressors in sport and athlete burnout and involved a cross-cultural comparison of English and Japanese soccer players. Ninety-eight male players completed the Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (Raedeke & Smith, 2001) to determine levels of perceived burnout. Based on data reported in previous research, and the thresholds developed by Hodge, Lonsdale, and Ng (2008), 22 of the players were identified as exhibiting higher levels of perceived burnout. Nine members of this subsample (4 English and 5 Japanese players) were subsequently interviewed to explore the relationship between their experiences of burnout and the organizational stressors they encountered. Results revealed multiple demands linked to the dimensions of athlete burnout and identified specific organizational-related issues that players associated with the incidence of burnout. Cultural differences between English and Japanese players in terms of the prevalence and organizational stressors associated with burnout were also identified, with the main differences being the relationship with senior teammates and the coaching style.
Article
Forty-four elite swimmers (F = 19, M = 25) participated in the present study designed to examine shifts along the self-determined motivation continuum, as well as swings in negative and positive affect, to predict susceptibility to athlete burnout. Each week the participants were asked to record positive and negative affect states. Swimmers’ affect swing was calculated using mean intraindividual standard deviation scores as an indicator of intraindividual variance. Every third week the athletes’ level of self-determined motivation to participate in swimming was compiled on a self-determination index. A motivational trend slope for the whole season was computed for each swimmer. Results indicated that shifts in the quality of motivation were reliable predictors of all burnout dimensions. In addition, results of the regression analyses showed that swimmers experiencing increased variability in negative affect were more at risk for burnout. These two psychological constructs reliably predicted burnout potential in elite swimmers.
Article
The purpose of the present review was to provide an up-to-date summary of the burnout-in-sport literature. The last published reviews were in 1989 (Fender) and 1990 (Dale & Weinberg). In order to appreciate the status of current knowledge and understanding and to identify potential future directions, the authors conducted a synthesis of published work using a systematic-review methodology. Findings comprised 3 sections: sample characteristics, correlates, and research designs and data collection. A total of 58 published studies were assessed, most of which focused on athletes (n = 27) and coaches (n = 23). Correlates were grouped into psychological, demographic, and situational factors and were summarized as positively, negatively, indeterminate, and nonassociated with burnout. Self-report measures and cross-sectional designs have dominated research. The authors conclude by summarizing the key findings in the literature and highlighting the gaps that could be filled by future research.
Article
Research on how to recover from athlete burnout is scarce. The current aim is therefore to describe an intervention with an elite shooter suffering from burnout, and the use of mindfulness and Qigong to reestablish sport functioning as well as general well-being. The participant used mindfulness and Qigong exercise on a daily basis.Exercise frequency, exercise time, concentration level and Qigong state were noted daily, and levels of stress,energy and primordial force were self-rated weekly for 20 weeks, and followed up after 30, 40 and 50 weeks.The participant recovered from burnout to a state of general well-being (energy and primordial forcechangedfrom weak to strong), and her ability to stay concentrated in a Qigong state changed frmweak to strong.Her capacity to shoot high scores was reestablished, even if her shooting endurance was not fully recovered.Mindfulness and Qigong techniques may be useful in the preventionof and recovery from athlete burnout.
Article
Cross-cultural psychologists have supplied information that can be integrated into regular psychology courses for undergraduates. References to this kind of information are provided, and methodological problems of cross-cultural research are discussed in terms of differing meanings of concepts, translation, and bias in the use of single research methods. The benefits and difficulties of cross-cultural research are examined in terms of theory expansion, study of the context in which behaviors occur, and the possibility of unconfounding research variables. Some of the contributions of this field to the study of perception, cognition, motivation, interpersonal interaction, and group dynamics are reviewed. Some applications of cross-cultural psychology to employee selection and appraisal, cross-cultural training, and psychopathology are mentioned. (113 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Athletes who feel autonomous, competent, and related to significant others in sport should experience lower levels of burnout than athletes whose basic psychological needs are being neglected (Ryan & Deci., 2002). Moreover, based on recent research by Sheldon and Niemiec (2006), lower levels of athlete burnout should also be observed when the three psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness) are simultaneously satisfied (i.e., a balance in need satisfaction) in sport. The present study tested these two hypotheses with 259 high school student-athletes attending a sports school. Results indicated that the satisfaction of each of the three basic psychological needs as well as the balance of need satisfaction was correlated negatively with athlete burnout. Regression analyses further demonstrated that the balance of need satisfaction made a significant contribution to prediction of athlete burnout over and above the significant contribution of each of the three needs. The present results are discussed in line with basic needs theory (Ryan & Deci, 2002) as well as the measurement of balance of need satisfaction.
Article
Objectives: The present study is a review on studies about the relationships between the three basic psychological needs/motivational regulations (i.e., amotivation, controlled regulation, extrinsic autonomous regulation, and intrinsic motivation) and burnout. Design: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Method: Studies were identified through five electronic databases and manual search using combinations of three groups of keywords. Three inclusion criteria were then used to screen the searched articles. Results: Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria and these studies varied considerably in terms of their study characteristics (e.g., characteristics of participants, study designs, and outcome measures). The results also showed that the three basic psychological needs, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic autonomous regulation, and amotivation had small to large effects on predicting global burnout and its three dimensions. However, controlled regulation showed no or weak correlations with the burnout subscales. Conclusions: Self-determination theory was generally supported in explaining athlete burnout.
Article
The main purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between coaches’ burnout, coaches’ behaviors, and levels of burnout and satisfaction experienced by college athletes. The secondary purposes were to examine how coaches’ levels of burnout were related to perceived coaching behavior, and to examine the link between athletes’ levels of burnout and satisfaction. Forty two male and female coaches employed at the 8 public universities in Jordan, and 413 male and female college athletes participated in this study. The participants completed translated version of the Leadership Scale for Sports (LSS; Chelladurai & Saleh, 1980), Athlete Burnout Questionnaire (ABQ; Raedeke & Smith, 2001), Athlete Satisfaction Questionnaire (ASQ; Riemer & Chelladurai, 1998), and Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey (Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson product-moment correlation coefficients, and stepwise regression. The results of this study suggest that there is a significant relationship between coaches’ leadership behaviors and burnout. It was discovered that personal accomplishment and emotional exhaustion to be significant predictors of the coaches’ leadership behaviors. Significant relationships were found between perceived coaching behaviors and athletes’ outcomes. Athletes who perceived their coaches as providing more training and instruction, social support, feedback, and exhibiting more democratic behavior and less autocratic behavior were more satisfied and less burned out. In addition, significant negative relationships were found between athletes’ satisfaction and athletes’ burnout.
Article
Researchers studying the experiences of individuals in human care settings propose the burnout syndrome consists of three central characteristics: emotional exhaustion, reduced accomplishment and depersonalization (Maslach, 198220. Maslach , C. 1982. Burnout: The cost of caring, London: Prentice Hall. View all references). The purpose of this study was to explore the extent to which this broadly accepted multi-dimensional conceptualization of burnout is appropriate for elite rugby players. Fifteen purposefully sampled professional players were interviewed about their rugby-related experiences. The experiences described by some players included cognitive and affective states reminiscent of the sport-specific burnout syndrome conceptualization forwarded by Raedeke and Smith (2001)26. Raedeke , T. D. and Smith , A. L. 2001. Development and preliminary validation of an athlete burnout measure. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 23: 281–306. [CSA] [Web of Science ®]View all references (i.e., exhaustion, reduced accomplishment and sport devaluation) that was grounded in the original human care literature (e.g., Maslach, 198220. Maslach , C. 1982. Burnout: The cost of caring, London: Prentice Hall. View all references). Players associated these negative experiences with a variety of perceptions and events related to their rugby involvement (e.g., injury, perceptions of the team environment and training loads).
Article
The focus of this study is on burnout experienced by athletes and coaches, and particularly on how athletes' perceptions of their coach's behavior and communication style may relate to levels of burnout and anxiety experienced by athletes. A modified version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory was used to measure burnout in coaches and the Eades Athletic Burnout Inventory was used to measure six components of burnout in athletes. Three multivariate analyses supported links in the study model. Coach burnout was significantly related to perceived coaching styles/behavior, perceived coaching styles/behavior was predictive of athlete burnout, and athlete anxiety and athlete burnout were significantly related. Interestingly, perceived coaching style/behavior was not a significant predictor of athlete anxiety. The results are discussed in relation to psychometric issues in the measure of bumout and coaching behavior as well as the need for sport psychology researchers to examine burnout from within a social contextual perspective.
Article
A self-report inventory of sources of life-stress and symptoms of stress is described. The tool can be used to determine the nature of an athlete's response to training, particularly his/her capacity to tolerate training loads. Data are used to demonstrate the use of the inventory to determine i) training responses which are either too stressed or under-stressed, ii) the ideal amount of stress to promote the optimum level of training effort, iii) the influence of outside-of-sport stresses that interfere with the training response, iv) preliminary features of overtraining, v) reactions to jet-lag and travel fatigue, and vi) peaking responses.
Athlete burnout is a multifaceted phenomenon. As a consequence, several attempts have been made to describe it from both a process and a state perspective. A number of theories and models exist that deal with the process of burning out and/or its antecedents. When viewed separately, the presented findings may be perceived as contradicting each other, or at best as confusing. To advance the field, we offer a comprehensive review of what is presently known within the area of athlete burnout and what new knowledge is needed. Furthermore, we suggest an integrated model of athlete burnout. This model includes major antecedents, early signs, consequences, and factors related to personality, coping and the environment. Our purpose is not to present the definitive model but to create a conceptual understanding of the field as it is seen today, and thereby stimulate empirical research to further advance the knowledge base.
Article
Sport enjoyment, dropout, and burnout emerged as important areas of research in the 1980s. Smith (1986) and Gould (1987; Gould & Petlichkoff, 1988) have proposed models to account for these phenomena, and both models include elements fromThibaut and Kelley's (1959) social exchange theory. The present paper argues that previous models overlooked an important aspect of social exchange theory and may not be able to adequately account for continued involvement, dropout, and burnout. Kelley's (1983) conception of commitment is offered as an extension of previous models. Recent research examining commitment in close relationships is highlighted, and its relevance to sport is discussed. The proposed model of commitment to sport is able to distinguish between athletes who continue their participation, those who drop out, and those who burn out.