Five Signs Your Kid Needs A Break From Sports

signs kid needs break from sports
Five years ago, my daughter quit water polo.

She had been on track to play in college, won a State Championship and had been participating in Olympic Development programs. But she was tired. She was physically and mentally burnt out. She needed a break. But we didn’t see the signs early enough or chose to ignore them.

Participating in sports offers kids immeasurable benefits, from learning about teamwork and discipline to increased physical health and self-esteem. However, pushing children to excel at all costs has become all too common, and the side effect is an alarming burnout rate. As a parent, safeguarding your child’s long-term well-being is imperative if you want to raise happy, healthy, and successful athletes.

Here are the five tell-tale signs your child needs a break from sports:

1. Tired More Than Normal

Strenuous training regimens can take a toll on a growing body. They will naturally be sore and tired frequently. But If your child is feeling chronically tired, their sleeping patterns change, or they are sleeping more than usual, these could all be indicative of an overburdened system. Overtraining often hides behind the mask of “performance improvement,” yet true growth happens during periods of rest. Children need a robust recovery routine, and sometimes, that involves stepping back from training and spending a day or a week simply recharging.

2. Change In Performance

Kids are bound to have good and not-so-good games, but if a downward performance trend seems uncharacteristic and lasts for a long time, it might signal an underlying issue. A rest from the rigors of practice and competition can reignite your child’s excitement about their sport and typically improve their performance as well. I have personally seen my own kids and many of their teammates come back from an injury or time away and play better than they did before.

3. More Emotional Than Usual

Children can often have a lot of highs and lows, but if you notice a big change, they are having frequent mood swings, or they become aggressive or depressed, these can all be signs of burnout and a reason to dig deeper. My daughter became anxious and more stressed than I had ever seen her. The anxiety escalated along with her increasing dissatisfaction with sports. It affected all areas of her life but centered around her sports.

4. Changing Attitude Towards Training

If your child expresses a sudden dislike or dread for their sport, makes excuses not to go to practices or games, or fakes injuries or sickness, these are clear warning signs that they need a break. Kids will have occasional days when they just don’t feel like going to practice, but if this becomes a regular occurrence, it’s a red flag.

5. Social Isolation:

In the year leading up to my daughter quitting water polo, she seemed less interested in hanging out with her teammates. She was beginning to distance herself from the team hangouts and dinners they did. Team sports are a great opportunity to develop social skills and form strong bonds with teammates. However, when burnout sets in, your child may start to withdraw from their team and even other friends. If you notice them becoming increasingly isolated during practices or games or declining social activities with the team, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate the situation.

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