Burnout: are Delta athletes’ motivation and concentration deteriorating?

Mady Hannegrefs and Gabrielle Huggins

Athletes can lose motivation, concentration, and determination, among other things. In truth, stress and worry can produce physical changes in the body, such as muscular spasms or trigger points. A statistic shows that 31.9 percent of high school athletes are affected by an anxiety disorder. The visual field can constrict as a result of stress and worry and slower times. “Depending on where I’m at in the season, it can kind of take a toll on my motivation,” said swimmer Jillian Carlson. 

These can have a significant impact on performance. “The sport has a positive and negative effect on my mental health because I really enjoy dancing, but sometimes my motivation is just not there,” said Autumn Cordell, a Junior at Delta High School.

Each sport has its own levels of energy and motivation. For example, playing basketball is much different than swimming because playing basketball involves cheering or giving teammates high fives as encouragement as opposed to swimming in silence for a couple of hours.  Some student athletes at Delta High School are just mentally and physically exhausted and don’t even acknowledge it. “This past month has been super exhausting,” said Cordell.  

Sometimes during a season, it is hard to balance school and work and go to practice. Jillian Carlson, a senior at Delta High School, works from 5:45 a.m to 7:15 a.m., goes to school until 3:00 p.m, and at 4:00 p.m she goes swimming practice. “It can be hard sometimes, just when things start to pile up, but for the most part, I work to keep things pretty organized,” said Carlson. 

Sports can also be extremely beneficial for students by keeping them in shape, providing them a space to work out which releases endorphins and teaching student-athletes about determination and commitment.

Delta High School junior, Easton Baier, hasn’t had a full year of sports in his high school career that hasn’t been restricted by COVID-19. “I have more motivation this year because I am a junior, and I want to try to be a leader in the team,” said Baier. This year as things are getting back to “normal,” compared to previous years that were greatly affected by COVID-19, athletes have adapted to restrictions and rules throughout the last few seasons. Coach Ames said “We’re back to normal, as normal as normal can be. But we’re definitely closer to normal than we were last year because last year was a shortened schedule, weird time, so this is back to the normal calendar, timeframe, and the number of games.”

 Athletes can use sports as a way to escape from their problems and focus all of their attention on their sport. Excelling in sports can be the best feeling, however, everything that brings you joy inevitably brings you pain. That pain can bring motivation to improve or to lose the joy in the game that was once loved.