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Sports Psychology: Burnout Among Coaches

There is good news for those of you who may be suffering from excessive stress or even burnout.  Stress management is the key, but it takes time to develop, learn and adhere to a stress management program.  In a study conducted by Betty Kelley, Ph.D. of Central Missouri State University and Michelle Ritter, M.S. of the University of Northern Colorado, a sample of collegiate tennis coaches from all competitive levels was recruited to examine the prevalence of stress and burnout among collegiate tennis coaches.  Although the majority of coaches studied were experiencing low to moderate levels of burnout, a small percentage were suffering from high levels of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and were sensing a lack of personal accomplishment.  Interestingly, female coaches were higher in both stress and burnout than their male counterparts.

The first step in a stress management program is to establish a balance between the many facets of your professional life and your personal life.  The next step is to develop your own goals.  Define your professional and personal goals and establish a plan to achieve them.  The final step is to gain control over your inner dialogue.  Modify negative thoughts into positive, unrealistic into realistic, worrisome into constructive and self-critical into self-affirming.

Excessive stress leading to burnout is an unfortunate, but not inevitable by-product of coaching.  Your willingness to take responsibility for your stress and burnout management will help ensure you remain a vital part of the coaching community.  Remember, in order to be an empowering influence in your athletes' lives, you must first make the same commitment to yourself.

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