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Strategies to Help Your Child Avoid Youth Soccer Burnout

Soccer is best experienced when it is fun. When it becomes all about competing and working, young players could very easily lose interest due to excessive physical and mental stress. In other words, they may experience burnout. There are a number of causes for youth soccer burnout. From over-involvement in competitive leagues, to parents who have overly high expectations for their children, to specializing too early in soccer, burnout almost always occurs due to an excess of one factor in the development process. Burnout manifests in a variety of ways including sudden disinterest in soccer, a sharp drop in performance, withdrawing from team activities, mood swings, faking injuries and regular complaints about tiredness.  To avoid burnout, therefore, parents must take care to prevent those conditions from arising.

The First Target is to Play

When a child has only started playing soccer for a few weeks, there should be no other targets or expectations from parents than to simply get the child playing. There are many benefits in competitive soccer but its place is not at the stage where a child is yet getting familiar with the sport. Parents will do well to reduce or totally eliminate questions and suggestions regarding a day’s performance on the drive home. This ensures that young players discover a love for the sport on their own without feeling they are under the weight of their parent’s demands or wishes.

Let them try other things

Kids do better when they specialize later. This is according to professional studies conducted on the science of burnout in young people in sports. What you want, as a parent, is for your child to participate in other sports apart from soccer and to discover on their own, which they are best suited for. Playing other sports enables the child to use various parts of their body, helping them understand the physical demands required in soccer. Playing multiple sports early gives the kid adaptability so that when they specialize towards their mid-to-late teens, they will perform comfortably and with confidence.

Mistakes are Okay

As professional soccer becomes more popular and awash with money, the stakes are higher. A missed goal or missed kick in defense could prove costly. However, even professionals get chances at redemption. For youth soccer players, it is desirable that the environment be such that they will not be hammered for their mistakes in ways that destroy confidence. Youth players are likely to feel overwhelmed with thoughts of inadequacy by not being as good as some teammates; if they were under pressure to be as good as the best, the fear of making mistakes rather than being confident of learning from them would likely make them feel like they are not good enough.

Incorporating Breaks

A schedule of year-round training is not the ideal situation for the development of youth soccer players. Being involved in multiple travel soccer competitions in a year does not leave the player sufficient time to explore other aspects of their personality or try other sports; both are necessary if burnout is to be avoided. In the spirit of growth and development, there should be enough space between competitions for growing players to fully recover from soreness and fatigue. Good soccer players are, after all, humans first. For that reason, their early lives should allow for activities that bring out their other creative sides. Obviously, children who juggle soccer with academics must be guided to strike a balance so that they do not feel like their education is suffering, hence, increasing the pressure to quit soccer.

While not absolutely necessary, taking time off soccer for a season can help a child truly judge whether they want to play. If after an extended break, they do not look forward to returning, it may be worth considering that they are not so into playing soccer. Indeed, not everyone who kicks a ball eventually plays full time.

Offering Support during Disappointment

Some kids could be very self-motivated as to be critical of their performances to the point of despair. Being available to offer support and openly communicate can be effective here, reassuring the player of their ability and that they are making progress. Young soccer players may not necessarily enjoy being told often how to play but they greatly benefit when smart parents and keen coaches are able to spot loss of confidence and rapid drops in performance level. A player could start becoming disappointed in himself for any number of reasons but one step to saving them from complete burnout is to re-assure and encourage.


While playing soccer can be a most memorable experience in the life of a young person, the ability to effectively balance the time allotted to the sport, with other aspects of everyday life, is critical in ensuring that the experience is also a predominantly enjoyable one. The objective is to keep the soccer player in good spirits so that performance is at its optimum. A child who is happy and content off the field will most likely be the same when he is on it.


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